Who is Keechant Sewell: For the first time in its 176-year-old history, the New York Police Department is set to get its first woman top cop. Detective Keechant Sewell has reportedly been named the new commissioner of the United States’ oldest and largest police force. She will notably be the first Black woman and only the third Black person in the role.
With over two decades of experience as an officer, Sewell is a veteran who holds the post of Nassau County Chief. She is expected to assume leadership in New York City in her new role starting January 1, 2022.
In a statement Tuesday evening, Eric Adams, the mayor-elect of NYC, made the announcement of Sewell’s historic appointment. “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.
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Sewell’s appointment comes in the wake of police-civilian tensions in the United States, where the Black Lives Matter movement and its related protests have been gaining momentum since 2020 after the killing of George Floyd. A Black man, Floyd was murdered in Minnesota after a police officer used excessive force on him. More here.
The case, along with others like that of Breonna Taylor, highlighted the complex dynamic between police brutality and the Black population in the US, leading protesting parties to demand urgent reform.
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49-year-old Sewell, who hails from Queens, is taking the “historic nature” of her appointment very seriously, she said. “I’m here to meet the moment,” she told New York Post in an interview. Reports suggest mayor-elect Adams was considerate of the emotional intelligence factor while making a choice for the NYPD top cop.
Sewell is expected to be formally introduced to the public in her new upcoming role Wednesday. She succeeds detectives Benjamin Ward and Lee Brown as a Black commissioner of the NYPD.
The Police Benevolent Association, a police officers’ union in NYC, welcomed Sewell to the “second-toughest policing job in America,” recognising the first as being a cop on the streets. “New York City police officers have passed our breaking point. We need to fix that break in order to get our police department and our city back on course,” the PBA statement read.