OAN’s Brooke Mallory
6:40 PM – Monday, June 12, 2023
Keechant L. Sewell, the first-ever female police commissioner in New York City, is stepping down after 18 months in her position.
Sewell, who was chosen by Mayor Eric Adams (D-N.Y.), resigned in an email to department employees on Monday afternoon.
“While my time here will come to a close, I will never step away from advocacy and support for the NYPD, and I will always be a champion for the people of New York City,” she wrote.
The Democrat mayor confirmed the action in a statement, applauding Sewell for her “steadfast leadership.”
When Adams, a former NYPD captain, was elected mayor in January 2022, he promised to appoint a woman to the position.
During her brief term, she supervised a purported reduction in several categories of crime, including homicides, while dealing with a number of high-profile crises, like the fatal shooting of two policemen within her first month on the job.
Patrick Lynch, president of the Police Benevolent Association, said in a statement that her leadership will be “sorely missed.”
Even as Adams has asserted that he has made crime-fighting a focus of his administration, Sewell has stayed away from the spotlight, seldom making herself available to the press.
She also faced allegations that she did not fully manage the agency, which were fueled in part by Adams’ choice to hire a former NYPD chief and important supporter, Phillip Banks, as deputy mayor of public safety. Banks has been delivering weekly public crime briefings, frequently without Sewell present.
NYPD commissioners frequently have short tenures in one of the most stressful and highly charged professions in policing.
Dermot Shea, Sewell’s predecessor, held the position for around two years. His predecessor, James O’Neill, served for three years. Prior to them, William Bratton served as commissioner for fewer than three years in his second term, having previously served for just over two years under Mayor Rudy Giuliani (R-N.Y.).
Sewell began her career as a patrol officer with the Nassau County Police Department in 1997, then rose through the ranks to become a precinct commander, head of major cases, a top hostage negotiator, and eventually chief of detectives, where she commanded a staff of around 350, which is roughly 1% of the size of the NYPD’s unformed ranks.
“The commissioner worked nearly 24 hours a day, seven days a week, for a year and a half, and we are all grateful for her service. New Yorkers owe her a debt of gratitude,” he said.
In recent weeks, the Adams administration has witnessed a number of high-profile departures, including those of his top housing official, Jessica Katz, and the city’s efficiency officer, Melanie La Rocca.
Adams stated in his remarks that Sewell deserved credit for combating crime in New York City.
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