New York City Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell is leaving her position after 18 months.
Sewell is the first woman to ever serve as the city’s police commissioner. At the time of her appointment, serious crime had risen 5% over a two-year period.
“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 told NYPD staff in an email on June 12, according to AP News.
She did not offer a reason for her departure.
Mayor Eric Adams pledged to appoint a woman to the law enforcement leadership position during his campaign. Adams was a captain in the NYPD. He described the 49-year-old New York native’s appointment as a feminist victory.
“She carried a sledge hammer and she crashed and destroyed every glass ceiling in her way,” he said in December 2021, per MarketWatch. “And today she has crashed and destroyed the final one we have in New York City. We have a strong, powerful new police commissioner.”
Sewell was a member of the Nassau County police department for over 20 years and rose to the rank of chief of detectives. She was sworn in as the 45th commissioner on Dec. 31, 2021.
The New York Times reported in January of 2023 that robbery, burglary, and other crimes had risen 22% during Sewell’s first year on the job. In particular, crimes in the subway increased by 30% in 2022.
Notably, shootings and murders had decreased – a change Sewell celebrated when speaking to the outlet.
“We knew we would not turn this city around on a dime,” Sewell said. “We did not stumble into these decreases. They were not happenstance. We strategized, planned, deployed and recalibrated when necessary.”
In March 2023, the NYPD released data indicating a decline in shooting incidents when compared to the same month one year earlier, as well as a decrease in murder, rape, robbery, and burglary. During the first quarter of 2023, index crime arrests were up 15 % from a year earlier — marking a 24-year high. The department said gun crime in the city “has been driven by gangs and street crews” and that it is “committed to ending this cycle of violence.”
“The continuing drop in shootings, homicides, and other violence in New York City is a direct result of the hard work performed each day and night by the women and men of the NYPD,” said Sewell. “While we are encouraged that five of the seven index crime categories decreased in the first quarter, felony assaults and grand larceny autos remain persistent issues. The NYPD will continue to address these conditions while also remaining focused on further driving down violence.”
Adams thanked Sewell for her “devotion over the last 18 months and her steadfast leadership” in a June 12 press release.
Her efforts played a leading role in this administration’s tireless work to make New York City safer. When we came into office, crime was trending upwards, and thanks to the brave men and women of the NYPD, most of the major crime categories are now down. 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.