Keechant Sewell, Nassau County Police Department’s chief of detectives, has beaten out top candidates from around the country to land New York City’s head law enforcement job.
Sewell, the first African American in her current role in Nassau County, was selected as the first female commissioner in the New York Police Department’s 176-year history and just the third-ever African American.
Mayor-elect Eric Adams determined that the seasoned veteran and New York native would better serve the needs of the 55,000-person department that includes more than 35,000 officers.
“I want to let them know that we are absolutely focused on violent crime. Violent crime is the No. 1 priority,” Sewell told the New York Post, adding she plans to “hit the ground running” when she takes over.
Sewell has vowed to fully assess what’s happening in the Big Apple before deciding on a strategy to address rising shootings and other crimes.
She said more plainclothes officers would hit the streets under her regime.
“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 said.
A 23-year veteran, the chief has held numerous leadership positions, including hostage negotiations. In addition, she created Nassau County’s Professional Standards Bureau, which oversaw internal affairs.
A member of the New York-New Jersey Joint-Terrorism Task Force, Sewell grew up in housing projects in the city’s Queens borough, where a formal press conference to announce her hire was held Wednesday.
“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 reporters.
When Sewell takes over as commissioner in January, she’ll have to manage a strained relationship between the department and the unions who reportedly have battled over policing tactics and other issues.
“We welcome Chief Sewell to the second-toughest policing job in America,” Patrick Lynch, president of the city’s police union, said in a statement. “The toughest, of course, is being an NYPD cop on the street.”