Williams welcomes appointment of first female NYPD Commissioner

Keechant Sewell, the first black female NYPD commissioner, listens to Mayor-elect Eric Adams speak at the Queensbridge houses in Long Island City, Queens on Wednesday, Dec. 15, 2021, in New York.
Associated Press/Brittainy Newman

New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams on Wednesday welcomed Mayor-elect Eric Adams’ appointment of Keechant Sewell as the first female commissioner of the New York Police Department (NYPD).

Sewell, 49, chief of detectives for the Nassau County Police Department on Long Island, will lead the NYPD and its 35,000 uniformed officers when Adams takes office on Jan. 1.

“I want to congratulate Chief Keechant Sewell on her selection to become the first female Commissioner of the NYPD,” said Williams, the son of Grenadian immigrants. “I believe that new leadership from outside the department’s ranks could be crucial in bringing the changes in culture, policies and practices that are critical as the new administration takes office.

“We need a new era of transparency and accountability, and a new approach to co-producing public safety that recognizes law enforcement’s role without solely relying on it,” added Williams, a candidate for Governor of New York in next June’s Democratic Primary. “This means more fully embracing and structuralizing successful strategies such as the crisis management system (CMS) as full partners in public safety.”

Williams said it was “very encouraging” to see Sewell’s appointment announced at 696 Queensbridge in Long Island City, Queens, “a CMS site that has shown impressive results.”

“Amid a nationwide rise in gun violence and other crimes, the work ahead is real and daunting,” the public advocate warned. “It will require ignoring the loudest voices that fear monger against any kind of progress, and resisting a push to return to failed over-policing policies of the past.

“There is an immense amount of work to be done to reimagine and protect public safety, and I look forward to speaking with the incoming commissioner about what the role of police will be in our city, and how we can create new systems to make and keep New York safe without relearning painful lessons,” Williams added.

Sewell, originally from Queens and a 22-year police veteran in Nassau County, has served as the Nassau County chief of detectives since September 2020, where she oversees a staff of about 350 people.

Adams said that 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.

“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,” he said.

Sewell told the ceremony, marking her appointment: “In this city and this moment, I have come full circle.

“The NYPD has an important role to play in making our communities safer, but we cannot do it alone,” she said.

More from Around NYC