New York City’s Mayor-elect Eric Adams made a historic choice to lead the city’s police force, the nation’s largest.
Adams tapped Nassau County Chief of Detectives Keechant Sewell to be the first female commissioner in the New York Police Department’s 176-year history. She will also be the third Black commissioner in the department’s history.
Sewell told The New York Post, which first reported news of her appointment, “I’m here to meet the moment.”
Her consequential appointment comes at a turbulent time for the city’s police force.
Continued talk of police reforms and defunding the department in the city, as well as the nation, have sparked tensions between police and residents. Additionally, shootings and incidences of violent crime have gone up in 2021 compared to last year, according to data from the NYPD.
Adams’ new leadership, as well as a new police commissioner to head the department, will be a reset for the city’s police force of more than 36,000 0fficers, and their union leaders, who were used to a more tense relationship with Mayor Bill de Blasio. Officers notably turned their backs on de Blasio during a colleague’s funeral in 2015.
Patrick J. Lynch, head of the Police Benevolent Association of the City of New York, said the union welcomes Sewell “to the second-toughest policing job in America.”
“The toughest, of course, is being an NYPD cop on the street. New York City police officers have passed our breaking point,” Lynch’s statement went on to say. “We need to fix that break in order to get our police department and our city back on course. We look forward to working with her to accomplish that goal.”
Sewell, who originally hails from Queens, has worked in the Nassau Police Department for 23 years in narcotics, major case and hostage negotiation, according to The New York Times. She was promoted to chief of detectives last year.
“I grew up in Queens,” Sewell said in a video interview with The Post. “This is my city, and now this being my department, I feel like I’ve come full circle.”
Adams, who will become the city’s second Black mayor, will be sworn in on Jan. 1.