NEW YORK (PIX11) — Mayor-elect Eric Adams on Wednesday announced that Nassau County Police Department Chief of Detectives Keechant Sewell would be the NYPD’s new commissioner. She will be the first woman and third Black commissioner to serve with the NYPD.
“To all the little girls within the sound of my voice, there is nothing you can’t do and no one you can’t become,” Sewell said at Wednesday’s event.
At an event introducing Sewell on Wednesday, Adams pointed out that women in law enforcement are often left “sitting on the bench, never allowed to get in the game. That is stopping today.” The mayor-elect said he conducted a nationwide search and that it was important to find someone who was qualified and had the experience, but also had emotional intelligence.
Sewell was born in Long Island City and lived at the Queensbridge Houses for a short time before moving elsewhere in Queens, sources said. Sewell was promoted to chief of detectives of the Nassau County Police Department in 2020, after 22 years serving on the force. She was the first Black woman in that role.
She’s replacing current NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea, who took over as NYPD commissioner under Mayor Bill de Blasio back in December 2019, replacing James O’Neill. Before his service as NYPD’s top cop, Shea was the department’s chief of detectives. He announced his departure from the department earlier this month. “I”m sure [Adams will] make a great decision,” Shea told NEWS10’s affiliate in New York City. “A lot is riding on it.”
Adams previously committed to naming a woman as Shea’s successor. “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 said.
Jovanni Ortiz, chair of the Nassau County Police Community Oversight Task Force, praised Sewell in a statement. “I was pleasantly surprised to learn of mayor-elect Adams’ selection of Chief Sewell to serve as New York City’s next police commissioner,” Ortiz said. “I have no doubt that her 25 years of experience as a female police officer of color, who has served in various leadership roles, will be an asset to the department and to the people of New York City. She will surely be missed in Nassau County, but we wish her all the best as she begins this new journey.”
The Police Benevolent Association also welcomed Sewell to the “second-toughest policing job in America.” “New York City police officers have passed our breaking point,” PBA President Patrick Lynch said. “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.”