First woman New York Police Chief steps down amidst rumours of other appointees in the department undermining her authority

Flickr/Metropolitan Transportation Authority: Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell at Police Headquarters, 2022.
June 19, 2023

The first woman to hold the position of the Commissioner of the New York Police Department, Keechant Sewell, resigned suddenly on June 12. With only her closest aides in the loop, Sewell walked into Mayor Eric Adam's office unannounced to deliver her resignation just 18 months after taking on the position.

Praised for her professionalism, Sewell surprised the whole department when notifying her 34,000 officers of her decision in an email.

This comes after year-long rumours that other appointees – such as Deputy Mayor of Public Safety, Philip Banks III, Senior Advisor to the Mayor, Timothy Pearson – had consistently been undermining her authority. While Sewell declined to comment, senior officials allege that she was prevented from disciplining a close associate of the Mayor after interfering in the arrest of a retired officer accused of chasing three boys while armed, and prevented from making discretionary promotions without the Mayor's clearance – even at the lowest levels of the department.

According to the former chief of police, Kenneth Corey, Sewell was "gradually being stripped of power," while noting similar interference had not take place in prior administrations. Corey went on to praise Sewell as an "incredibly intelligent" commissioner that acted with "honour and integrity."

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