NEW YORK (PIX11) — NYPD Commissioner Keechant Sewell is stepping down after 18 months on the job, PIX11 News has confirmed.
Sewell, who Mayor Eric Adams appointed, announced the resignation in an email to department staff 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.
Sewell was the first woman and third Black commissioner to serve with the NYPD.
At an event introducing Sewell in December 2021, New York City Mayor Eric Adams pointed out that women in law enforcement are often left “sitting on the bench, never allowed to get in the game. That is stopping today.”
Adams said he conducted a nationwide search and that it was essential to find someone who was qualified and had the experience but also had emotional intelligence.
“To all the little girls within the sound of my voice, there is nothing you can’t do and no one you can’t become,” Sewell said at her introduction event.
Adams, a former police captain, took an outsized interest in the department’s operations compared with other mayors. Since Sewell’s appointment, Adams has faced questions about whether she has been granted the autonomy of past commissioners.
Almost immediately after taking office, Adams hired former NYPD Chief of Department Phillip Banks as his deputy mayor for public safety, somewhat diminishing Sewell’s authority. Banks has been holding weekly public briefings on crime, often without Sewell in attendance.
Sewell started with the Nassau County Police Department as a patrol officer in 1997, then became a precinct commander, head of major cases, a top hostage negotiator and finally chief of detectives, where she oversaw a staff of about 350 — about 1% the size of the NYPD’s unformed ranks.
PIX11 News reached out to Adams’ office for a statement.
I want to thank Police Commissioner Sewell for her devotion over the last 18 months and her steadfast leadership. 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.Mayor Eric Adams
The Police Benevolent Association also released a statement following the news of Sewell’s resignation, saying:
In her short time with the NYPD, Commissioner Sewell made a real impact. She took over a police department in crisis and faced tremendous challenges from day one. She cared about the cops on the street and was always open to working with us to improve their lives and working conditions. There are still enormous challenges facing the NYPD. Her leadership will be sorely missed.PBA President Patrick J. Lynch
PIX11 News obtained the full resignation letter that was sent out to the members of the New York City Police Department:
Since I joined you almost a year and a half ago we have faced tremendous tragedy, challenges and triumphs together.
I have witnessed your compassion, heroics and selflessness on a daily basis. They have reaffirmed to me, what people around the globe have always known: you are an extraordinary collective of hard working public servants dedicated to the safety of this city, engaging our communities and sharing what we know with our partners for the benefit of the world.
You and your predecessors are the reason that the NYPD is known as the gold standard in law enforcement.
I have had the absolute honor to spend time with our line of duty families. Their loss is immeasurable; their strength is incredible. I thank them for allowing me the privilege to know them and hear the stories of our fallen heroes.
I have also had the opportunity to meet many of our retired members.
Their continued interest in, and pride for having served in this department exemplifies that the bonds of this family are long standing and far reaching.
I have made the decision to step down from my position.
While my time here will come to a close, I will never step away from my advocacy and support for the NYPD, and I will always be a champion for the people of New York City.
I was acutely aware of the challenges you faced both before I arrived and what you experience daily. That is why I made your wellness one of my priorities. We cannot be expected to deliver the type and quality of police services that New Yorkers deserve unless we care for and protect the guardians of this city.
I hope the modern chart, which will allow you less appearances and more time with your family; the overtime portal, which will significantly reduce last minute forced overtime and prevent disruptions to your personal lives; a self nomination portal for discretionary promotions, for outstanding members historically overlooked for advancement; professional development programs; and ensuring that the discipline process focuses on fairness and expediency, and appreciates the realities you face while policing this city, will be lasting hallmarks of my focus on your well being.
There are people all over this city who want and appreciate you. They want safe streets, transit and housing. They are families, workers, tourists, business owners and students, and they depend on the NYPD.
Please continue to do what you do well to secure this city.
Thank you for stepping forward and as always, stay safe. Please.NYPD Commissioner Keechant Sewell
Sewell’s resignation will take effect at the end of June.
This story comprises reporting from The Associated Press.