Dec. 15, 2021 By Allie Griffin
Mayor-elect Eric Adams has named a Queens native as the city’s first female NYPD Commissioner.
Adams announced Wednesday that Keechant Sewell, the Nassau County chief of detectives, will become the top cop of the country’s largest police force next month.
“I’m proud to tell you personally that the 45th police commissioner of the city of New York will be Keechant Sewell,” Adams said in a video statement.
“She’s a native of our city from the great borough of Queens,” he added.
Sewell, 49, was born and raised in the Queensbridge Houses — the largest public housing development in the nation — in Long Island City. She later moved to Corona and then Jamaica as a child and now lives on Long Island, according to the New York Post, which was the first to report on her appointment.
She is a 22-year-veteran of the Nassau County police department and was promoted to chief of detectives last year. She has also led the major case bureau and the professional standards bureau and has worked as an internal affairs investigator as well as the lead hostage negotiator among other jobs.
Adams said he searched for a new commissioner all over the country and had long aspired to appoint a woman for the top position.
“To lead this department into the next chapter of our shared history, I conducted a nationwide search of some of this country’s brightest talents,” he said.
Sewell will take over the job from another Queens native, current NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea, who became commissioner in December 2019. Shea, who was born and raised in Sunnyside, plans to retire from the NYPD at the end of the year.
She will take the reins of the department of 35,000 officers — more than 10 times the size of Nassau county’s 2,400-officer department, according to the New York Times — at a difficult time. Distrust of police officers escalated in the summer of 2020, and racial tensions among officers and the Black community remain high. Furthermore, shootings and murders are up significantly from pre-pandemic levels.
Adams, a former NYPD officer himself, ran and won on a campaign of combating the rise in violence in the city.
He said he believes Sewell is the right person to take on the difficult job of tackling both police abuse and violent crime.
“She not only brings a diverse set of experiences to this moment, but the emotional intelligence needed to lead at this challenging but hopeful time in our city,” Adams said.
With Adams’ latest appointment, many of the city’s top jobs will be held by people who were raised in Queens in the new year. The mayor-elect grew up in South Jamaica and his pick for NYC schools chancellor, David Banks, spent much of his youth in southeast Queens.
The next city council speaker is also all but certain to be a Queens native.