Incoming NYPD top cop Keechant Sewell vowed on Wednesday to be “laser-focused” on gun crime and take violent criminals off the streets as she was named the first female police commissioner of the country’s biggest police department.
“It is said that the NYPD is the best of the best, we’re about to get even better,” Sewell, 49, said at a press conference at the Queensbridge Houses in Long Island City, the public housing development where she grew up.
“My shoes are laced up, I’m ready to get to work.”
Sewell, the current Nassau County chief of detectives, was officially named NYPD commissioner on Wednesday by Mayor-elect Eric Adams.
“In this city, in this moment, I have come full circle. It’s with a humble heart and clear eyes … that I accept the position of New York City police commissioner,” she said.
“I have been immersed in policing. I have watched, admired and worked alongside the remarkable members of the NYPD. It is a privilege to stand beside them now.”
Sewell comes into the role as the NYPD struggles to keep crime down, particularly shootings and murders. She was a surprise choice for the NYPD’s top job — having led just 350 uniformed officers in Nassau County for the past 15 months.
Asked if she was concerned about critics who didn’t believe she had enough experience to lead the more than 53,000-member NYPD, Sewell shot back: “If they don’t believe in me, come and talk to me in a year.”
Adams also shrugged off concerns about Sewell only leading a small law enforcement contingency until now, saying she was going to “scale up” her skills.
He said Sewell’s appointment, which was first reported on by The Post Tuesday night, was a “historic choice.”
In his search for the new police commissioner, Adams said he needed a “visionary” who was “ready to transform our department.”
Asked about the state’s soft-on-crime bail reform law, which has led to numerous repeat offenders being cut loose, Sewell was on the same page as the mayor-elect.
“I think judges have to have the discretion to keep dangerous people off the street,” she said. “It’s really about balance.”
She added, “We will be laser-focused on violent crime with an emphasis on guns. We will arrest violent criminals, take guns off the streets and build the cases to help keep them off.”
Last week, Adams slammed bail reform for not giving judge’s enough power when it comes to violent crimes.
Sewell won Adams over during the grueling interview process that capped with an hours-long mock press conference about the shooting of an apparently unarmed black man by a white police officer.
“We wanted to get under her skin, we wanted to see if she would be shaken,” Adams said of grilling Sewell.
Sewell stood out because she showed compassion, while other candidates went straight into the technical aspect of policing, Adams said.
“She started out with the human part of it — that made me sit up. She understood that it was a tragedy because a life was lost. That’s what we have to understand,” he said.
The mayor-elect called Sewell “the woman for the job.”
“Chief Sewell’s appointment today is a powerful message to young girls and women across the city – there is no ceiling to your ambition,” Adams said.
“We have witnessed so many women who have conducted themselves in a professional way, yet never received the opportunity to do the job on a higher level, always sitting on the bench, never allowed to get in the game,” Adams added.
“That is stopping today.”
Shortly after Sewell was announced as the new commissioner, she joined the mayor-elect at a crime scene in Brooklyn where a bodega worker was gunned down Tuesday night.
“A young man is lost due to gun violence. We have been talking about the over proliferation of guns in our community,” Adams said outside the deli.
“After announcing the police commissioner, we wanted to come by here to show respect for the family. A son was murdered here in the city.”
Sewell called the deli shooting “totally unacceptable.”
The mayor-elect reaffirmed the need to bring back plainclothes officers to crack down on gun violence in the city.
“Within one year, you’re going to see real change in how we handle crime,” Adams said, adding that his approach would include partnerships with district attorneys, judges and crisis management teams to prevent crime in the first place.
Asked whether he and Sewell will continue to visit crime scenes when they take office, Adams said: “You are going to see the most visible mayor in the history of New York.”
“I think it’s crucial that we come out here to this community … If the commissioner and the mayor fail to come here, we don’t come here and say to the people, we are here with you, it sends the wrong message,” he said.
“We’re going to be visible in our community and make sure that people know we are here with you. You’re going to see us on the trains, on the streets, you’re going to see us in NYC Housing Authority — we will be visible together.”
Sewell will become the city’s 45th top cop from Jan. 1 when Adams takes office.
She is replacing Dermot Shea, who is retiring from the NYPD after 30 years, the last two as commissioner.