First Black Woman Appointed NYC’s Police Commissioner Abruptly Resigns

by Xara Aziz
YouTube via Roland S. Martin

The first Black woman to be tapped New York City’s police commissioner has declared her resignation, an abrupt announcement that comes on the heels of her being appointed to the post less than 18 months ago.

Keechant Sewell made the announcement Monday, but did not state why she was leaving nor when she would officially leave.

In her resignation announcement, Sewell emphasized the importance of police in the city, calling them public servants who were called to serve due to their “compassion, heroics and selflessness.”

“I will never step away from my advocacy and support for the NYPD,” she said, “and I will always be a champion for the people of New York City.”

Mayor Eric Adams appointed Sewell to the position in 2022. He, too, served as an NYPD officer for over two decades before he became mayor. After Sewell’s announcement, he said that she labored assiduously and that “New Yorkers owe her a debt of gratitude.”

But senior-level police officials, including Philip Banks III, deputy mayor for public safety, and senior adviser to the mayor, Timothy Pearson undermined Sewell’s efforts since she began as Commissioner.

“A recent conversation between Sewell and a city official reportedly revealed that Banks had acted like a shadow police commissioner and that Sewell felt irritated and devalued by having to justify his choices,” reads a TheGrio report.

“Sewell also had to deal with other challenges, including her attempt to deprive Jeffrey Maddrey, the highest-ranking uniformed officer and an associate of the mayor, of 10 vacation days last month amid allegations that he obstructed the arrest of a retired cop pursuing three youths while carrying a gun.”

Notwithstanding her turbulent interactions with the city government, Sewell has been noted to have left a long-lasting impact on the department.

Notably, her heartfelt eulogies for Jason Rivera and Wilbert Mora, two officers who were killed while responding to a domestic dispute call in Harlem, showed her empathy and respect for those in the profession. She also advocated for renovations in police precincts, which she said were dilapidated and in need of repair in order to provide comfort for police officers who dwelled there to take the required breaks during their shifts while on-duty.

“This is New York,” Sewell said. “They’ll forget about me when I do leave.”

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