Video: NYPD Commissioner reflects on her first year on the job

Mayor Eric Adams said he picked Keechant Sewell in part because of her compassion and emotional intelligence

By Rocco Parascandola
New York Daily News

NEW YORK — Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell says she and Mayor Adams’ deputy mayor for public safety see eye-to-eye on the issues facing the police department.

Sewell said Deputy Mayor Philip Banks’ “wealth of experience” as a former NYPD Chief of Department is an asset, not a hindrance, to her job — and added that she has no issues with Banks’ meetings with numerous department chiefs without her presence.

Police officials and political pundits predicted Banks, a deputy mayor since shortly after Adams took office, would play an outsized role in the Adams administration and overshadow Sewell, a self-described worker bee not obsessed with promoting herself.

But the top cop, the first woman to lead the nation’s largest police force, said in an interview in her One Police Plaza office that there is no controversy, and that she shares Banks’ commitment to improving public safety.

“I value his insight into the department,” Sewell said in an interview with the Daily News. “He knows the positions and the people in these roles.”

Sewell said she values Banks’ opinions on strategies and personnel. “I think you have to be able to draw on the experience of those who worked here in the past,” the commissioner said.

Sewell, who was sworn to office on Jan. 1, 2022, has met at different times with Banks, and said the fact that he has had other meetings with NYPD chiefs —without her present — is not an issue for her.

“I have great communications with the chiefs in this police department,” she added. “When they do have meetings they come back to me and let me know what was discussed, what the plan is going forward.

“I only have so many hours in the day myself, so it actually is good that they’re able to have meetings that I can get the briefings on afterward.”

Sewell, a former chief detective in the Nassau County Police Department, was less forthcoming about why she continues to live in Valley Stream, L.I. But she has in the past, she noted that a COVID-19 executive order from March 2020 paused the requirement that certain city officials live in the city.

In the interview, Sewell expanded on a November speech in which she told female cops at a Policewoman’s Endowment Association dinner that the next woman who becomes police commissioner should expect a litany of sexism and doubts about her abilities.

“There was no anger at all,” she said. “I was actually just making sure that I could explain to the next person the things she may expect because as a woman coming into this role I did not have that.

“I also thought it was important to — if I could in any way — inspire women to aspire to this role and to understand there may be challenges, but there’s nothing we can’t overcome.”

Sewell’s office is adorned with a floral “45″ arrangement, as she is the city’s 45th police commissioner. Before 1901, the city’s top police officers, including Theodore Roosevelt, held the title of superintendent.

She said the recent drops in robberies and burglaries on top of double digit decreases for murders and shootings bodes well for 2023, noting the declines came even as legislators resisted calls for additional tweaks to the controversial bail reform laws.

And she said that when she refers to cops as “your NYPD” she means it.

“I think the people of the city should see that officers have children, they have families, their kids are in little league.,” Sewell said. “They’re just like everybody else. They belong to the people of this city. They serve the people of this city and I think it’s important that the public feels that connection with the Police Department.”

“I want to make sure they see the people behind the uniform.”

Mayor Adams said he picked Sewell in part because of her compassion and emotional intelligence.

Sewell, 50, credits her father, Carl, who asked her every night how her day went — and, “What’s going on in your life?”

“This is just who I am,” she said. “For me, making sure we find the human aspect in everything is so important.”

©2023 New York Daily News.
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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