Who is Keechant Sewell? Nassau County Chief of Detectives is 1st female NYPD commissioner
New York City Mayor-elect Eric Adams has finally named his pick for NYPD commissioner, making history in the process. On December 13, reports emerged that Keechant Sewell was going to be named as the NYPD's 45th top cop, breaking a 176-year tradition to become the first woman to take on the role. Sewell's name comes as a shock to many, after reports emerged Adams was considering seasoned names like Ivonne Roman and Carmen Best.
In January, Sewell will replace former Mayor Bill de Blasio's pick Dermot Shea, and certainly have her hands full from day 1. The city is battling a major crime wave, with murders and gun violence up, something Adams has promised to address. There are also multiple scandals at the NYPD, from sexual harassment to a rape and sodomy lawsuit that Sewell will have to deal with. On top of that, she has to bring back respect for NYPD cops, who have often been targeted and attacked all over the city.
There's certainly a lot of Sewell's plate, and a huge risk for Adams as well, in opting for a cop who is relatively inexperienced. "He’s going on his instinct as an officer for 22 years and being one of the chief critics of the NYPD," a source close to the Mayor-elect told the New York Post. Is she the right person for the job? We'll let you decide after reviewing her story.
Who is Keechant Sewell?
A 22 year veteran of the police force, Sewell is currently serving as the chief of detectives of the Nassau County Police Department, a role she was promoted to in 2020. At that time too, she made history by becoming the first Black chief to take on the role. Before that, she quickly rose through the ranks, having held numerous leadership positions ranging from leading major cases to hostage negotiation. She also created and ran the department's Professional Standards Bureau.
Sewell has also reportedly been trained in hostage negotiation by the FBI, and also received counterterrorism training at the FBI Academy in Quantico. Along with her role at the Nassau County PD, she also serves on the New York-New Jersey Joint-Terrorism Task Force. The Post reported that the Long Island native spent her early years in public housing in the Queensbridge Houses in Long Island City. She's expected to go back there on December 15, where Adams will formally announce her at a press conference. Now, Sewell lives in Long Island’s Valley Stream.
In a brief interview with The Post, Sewell opened up about some of her plans for the NYPD, and how she wants to reign in the crime spree.
'Violent crime is the No. 1 priority'
"I want to let them know that we are absolutely focused on violent crime. Violent crime is the No. 1 priority," she said, adding she plans to "hit the ground running" when she takes over. While she has been tight-lipped about her plans to address shootings, Sewell said she would first do a "full assessment of what’s happening in the city right now," before coming up with a strategy.
One thing New Yorkers can expect to see more of is plainclothes units, she admitted. "They are able to be in places where they are not able to be easily recognized and if you use a surgical approach, use well-trained officers and know what their objectives are, you can get measurable results," Sewell told The Post. Whatever her plans are, she's certainly impressed Adams. The Mayor-elect told The Post, "Keechant Sewell is a proven crime-fighter with the experience and emotional intelligence to deliver both the safety New Yorkers need and the justice they deserve."
But when she takes over on January 1, it won't be just crime on Sewell's mind. She's also got to sway public opinion that a woman of color is the right person for the job, optics aside. Reflecting on that, she said, "I’m very humbled to even be considered for this and it’s an extraordinary opportunity. And I take it very seriously, the historic nature of this."