Keechant Sewell is getting the promotion of a lifetime.
Sewell, currently the chief of detectives for the Nassau County Police Department in New York, was just named the newest commissioner of the New York Police Department. She will become the first woman to ever assume the role, as well as the third Black person to ever hold the post.
“I’m here to meet the moment,” she told the NY Post in an exclusive interview. “I have been doing this for 25 years. I am ready to hit the ground running.”
During her time with Nassau County PD, Sewell worked for its Narcotics Vice Squad and served as a hostage negotiator. She has been the chief of detectives there for about a year.
New York City Mayor-elect Eric Adams had vowed to appoint a woman as commissioner throughout his campaign. “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,” he told the Post of his final decision, adding that the selection was a “gut choice.”
It’s certainly a surprising one. In her current role, Sewell oversees about 350 officers — as commissioner of the NYPD, she’ll preside over roughly 36,000, over 100 times larger than her previous force. Sewell was chosen from among a pool of candidates that included former Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best and Philadelphia Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw.
She’ll assume the mantle at an especially critical time for the NYPD, as both murders and unsolved cases are rising.
Sewell is also coming into the role amid ongoing incidents of police brutality and calls from activists to defund police departments throughout the U.S. Seemingly in recognition of the current climate, The New York Times reports that Sewell’s interview process even included a staged press conference to address the fictional shooting of an unarmed Black man by a white NYPD officer.
Adams — a former NYPD captain — has criticized calls to defund police, and has proposed returns to controversial practices including the deployment of plainclothes officers and stop-and-frisk. In Sewell’s interview with the Post, she declined to go into detail on her plans for the NYPD’s future, stating that she wants to do a “full assessment of what’s happening in the city right now” before strategizing. But, she also stated, “violent crime is the No. 1 priority.”
It remains to be seen what direction Sewell will go in with her time as top cop. Either way, she will step up as commissioner in January 2022, becoming the 45th person to occupy the role in the force’s 176-year history.