NEW YORK — Just hours after NYPD Commissioner Keechant Sewell was sworn in as New York’s top cop, she responded to one of her officers being shot.
In her first sit-down interview since she started the new job, Sewell said it was a call nobody wants to get.
“My first initial concern was for the wellbeing of the officer and his family,” she said.
She added that she was relieved to know the officer was going to be OK.
The commissioner’s focus is on tackling gun violence in the city. Sewell plans to get guns off the streets by going after gangs.
“We are going to be rolling out some gun and gang initiatives in the near future,” she said. “We have some very promising investigations that we think are going to have significant impacts in the future.”
One initiative will be bringing back the city’s plainclothes, anti-crime unit, which was shut down under NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea after weeks of protests in the wake of George Floyd’s death at the hands of police.
Sewell, 49, is taking over during a very unstable time for not only the department, but for the entire city; there are ongoing COVID concerns in addition to a broken relationship between the community and cops.
“It’s very difficult to ask for patience from people who are in pain and are afraid, but we are certainly working on initiatives and certainly addressing gun violence head on,” she said.
Just days into the job, Commissioner Sewell heard personal stories from victims of gun violence and families.
“Listening to the stories, the courage and pain of the survivors of gun violence was truly moving,” Sewell said. “It only galvanizes you to be able to make a difference.”
With 25 years of law enforcement experience, she brings a wealth of knowledge to the department. She is a native New Yorker, born and raised in Queens. Sewell’s appointment is historical as the first Black woman to head the largest police department in the country.
“I feel an overwhelming sense of responsibility and privilege to be the first woman in this role and to be something and someone that little girls look up to. Me being in this position sets a new tone and starts a new chapter,” she said.