Keechant Sewell Makes History as 1st Black Woman to Lead NYPD as Commissioner

“I’m truly honored to be the 45th New York City Police Commissioner,” Keechant, who is 49-years old, took to Twitter after the oath-taking ceremony. “This oath reflects my deep commitment to our great city – and the individuals who are ranked as New York’s Finest. I’m privileged to be here and ready to work!”

Keechant, who is a Queens native, served in the Nassau County Police Department for nearly 25 years where she played key roles in narcotics, major cases, and hostage negotiation. She was promoted as the chief of detectives in September 2020.

Keechant was appointed by New York’s new mayor Eric Adams following the retirement of the previous head of the police department Dermot Shea. Adams, who is also Black and a former police captain, had promised to appoint a female police commissioner during his campaign.

She is only the third Black person to lead the NYPD after Benjamin Ward and Lee Brown, who served in the 1980s and the 1990s.

Now, she inherits the police department which has been struggling with the increase of gun and violent crime for years while also dealing with the influx of new infections with the omicron variant of the coronavirus.

Moreover, Keechant is set to oversee New York City’s 35,000 police officers, significantly larger than her previous role of overseeing a staff of approximately 350. She also promised to further diversify the force.

“I bring a different perspective, committed to making sure the department looks like the city it serves and making the decision, just as Mayor-elect Adams did, to elevate women and people of color to leadership positions,” she said when her appointment was announced, according to the Associated Press.