New York City Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell said Monday she would resign after less than 18 months, offering no reason for her abrupt departure. Sewell, who was appointed by Mayor Eric Adams last year, was the first woman to head the nation’s largest police force. Adams had promised as a candidate to name a woman to lead the agency where he was an officer for 22 years, giving her the power to rethink policing after bitter protests against police brutality and racism, the New York Times reports. While the mayor complimented Sewell for working tirelessly and said “New Yorkers owe her a debt of gratitude," in her email announcing her resignation Sewell did not mention the mayor, instead focusing on the qualities of line officers, calling them hard-working public servants and praising their “compassion, heroics and selflessness.” Sewell did not say when she would leave.
This year, Philip Banks III, the deputy mayor for public safety, began giving widely publicized weekly, live-streamed public briefings, a role that would typically belong to the police commissioner. Banks’s appointment had been surrounded by questions over whether his 2014 resignation from the police department while the subject of a federal corruption investigation would hamper his credibility and ability to perform the job. He had been named as an unindicted co-conspirator in a corruption investigation that produced several convictions, including that of a Police Department chief who had served as his top aide. Several senior current and former police officials said that Sewell had been undermined since early in her tenure by the mayor and some of his senior aides, including Banks and Timothy Pearson, a senior mayoral adviser. One city official who spoke recently with Sewell said that Banks behaved like a shadow police commissioner, and shared that Sewell felt frustrated and undermined by having to defend his decisions.