Queens, NY – Mayor-elect Eric Adams appointed Nassau County Police Department Chief of Detectives Keechant Sewell to take the helm of the New York Police Department (NYPD) as the first female police commissioner of the nation’s largest police force.
Adams made the announcement on Dec. 15 during a press conference at the Queensbridge Houses public housing project in Long Island City where Sewell grew up, the New York Post reported.
“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,” Adams told CNN in a statement on Tuesday. “Chief Sewell will wake up every day laser-focused on keeping New Yorkers safe and improving our city, and I am thrilled to have her at the helm of the NYPD.”
Adams called his selection to run the NYPD a leader with a “full breadth of experience.”
“She didn’t sit behind a desk. She was out there learning the job and learning how to be better for the job,” the soon-to-be-mayor of New York City said.
Chief Sewell, 49, will become NYPD’s 45th top cop when she replaces NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea on Jan. 1.
Commissioner Shea is retiring after 30 years on the police force, the New York Post reported.
Adams will be inaugurated and take over for New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio on Jan. 1.
“It is said that the NYPD is the best of the best, we’re about to get even better,” Chief Sewell told reporters after she was introduced. “My shoes are laced up, I’m ready to get to work.”
Adams called Chief Sewell’s appointment an “historic choice,” the New York Post reported.
“Chief Sewell’s appointment today is a powerful message to young girls and women across the city – there is no ceiling to your ambition,” Adams said.
He called Chief Sewell “the woman for the job,” according to the New York Post.
“We have witnessed so many women who have conducted themselves in a professional way but never received the opportunity to do the job at a higher level,” Adams said when he made the announcement. “That is stopping today.”
The selection of Chief Sewell came as a surprise to many.
Adams had promised to appoint a woman to run the department during his mayoral campaign, the New York Post reported.
Former Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best and Philadelphia Police Chief Danielle Outlaw were both considered frontrunners alongside a few standout NYPD command veterans, but Chief Sewell’s name was never included in that group.
Despite knowing very little about her, the rank-and-file told The Police Tribune they were optimistic.
“I know nothing about her,” an NYPD officer said. “She wasn’t on anyone’s radar that I know of. Hopefully, it’s good. There’s just so many unknowns.”
The officer said things have gotten so bad in recent years that a change from the outside could be a good thing.
“We won’t know til she gets into office and starts doing things. She’s willing to use plainclothes. I’m hopeful,” he told The Police Tribune.
Violent crime skyrocketed in the city after NYPD got rid of 600 plainclothes anti-crime unit assignments in exchange for “community-based efforts.”
NYPD Police Benevolent Association (PBA) President Pat Lynch released a statement welcoming Chief Sewell to the department, CNN reported.
“We welcome Chief Sewell to the second-toughest policing job in America,” the statement read. “The toughest, of course, is being an NYPD cop on the street.”
Lynch said in the statement that NYPD officers “have passed their breaking point,” and said “we need to fix that break in order to get our police department and our city back on course,” CNN reported.
“We look forward to working with her to accomplish that goal,” the union boss said.