As Keechant Sewell Steps Away as Top Cop, Could Her Next Move Be a Run for Mayor?

As the city waits to see who Mayor Eric Adams will pick to succeed Keechant Sewell as the new top cop, our Point and Counterpoint columnists, pr mavens Hank Sheinkopf and Ken Frydman, have an unusual take on where Sewell may land next. Normally, Frydman, a one time press aide to Rudy Giuliani turned critic is our right of center commentator while Sheinkopf, a consultant to a wide number of Democratic candidates over the years, takes the view of a sometimes liberal sometimes centrist Dem. Here’s their take on the unfolding drama around Sewell.

| 29 Jun 2023 | 11:24

This week we agree. Normally we don’t. How about Keechant Sewell for Mayor? Mayor Adams earned kudos for choosing Sewell as the NYC’s first female police commissioner and, just as importantly, the first Black woman to hold the city’s most critical appointed post. But he also deserves critical second-guessing for forcing her out on top.

Sewell, who stepped down as NYPD Commissioner on June 30th to a standing ovation from police officers on a promotion ceremony on her final day, gets credit for the drop in major crimes over her 18 months on the job. First half 2023 through June 25 saw reductions in five of the seven major crime categories: murder down 7.7 percent, rape down 10.4 percent, robbery down 4.5 percent, burglary down 10.1 percent, and larceny down 1.2 percent. Grand larceny autos and felony assaults are the only two blemishes, up 18.2 percent and 6.4 percent respectively. In March, NYC experienced a 26.1 percent drop in shooting incidents compared to March 2022. Former NYPD Commissioners Bill Bratton and Ray Kelly should’ve also run for mayor after presiding over historic drops in crime (Bratton as Giuliani’s police commissioner) and improving on that historic drop in crime (Kelly as Bloomberg’s police commissioner). Bratton and Kelly would’ve made formidable mayoral candidates.

So might Sewell. Sewell, previously Nassau County chief of detectives, is a respected police commander. Her management skills and job performance could make her a 2025 NYC mayoral candidate. If that happened, Sewell could take crime control--Adams Signature issue--from him. “When we came into office, crime was trending upwards, and thanks to the brave men and women of the NYPD, most of the major crime categories are now down,” the mayor said on June 12, the day Sewell resigned. “The commissioner worked nearly 24 hours a day, seven days a week for a year and a half, and we are all grateful for her service. New Yorkers owe her a debt of gratitude.”

Sewell’s leadership skills were on full display within her first few weeks on the job. On January 28, 2022 and, only a few days later, on February’s 2, 2022, she delivered eulogies for murdered NYPD Detectives Jason Rivera and Wilbert Mora. “She earned the respect of the rank-and-file early on,” a police source told us.

At 51, Sewell is leaving the NYPD with a shiny resume and at the peak of her career. Sure, she could run another police department or take a cushy job at a private investigations firm, a security company or think tank. The permanent government that runs this town (read: real estate and media) may well be thinking about Sewell as a plausible mayoral candidate. Public safety and its closest cousin, quality-of-life, remain New Yorkers‘ major concerns. They’re the twin reasons that commercial real estate is empty. That ain’t changing anytime soon.

Not only is Sewell a woman, she’s a woman of color. She’d start a mayoral campaign with a solid base: women, women of color, law-and-order voters and fans of competent, municipal managers. Sewell knows how to run a police department and, as mayor, she could choose the commissioner to continue her crime reduction legacy.

Adams reportedly kept Sewell on a short leash. So she rightly quit. The NYPD needs another outsider like Sewell as police commissioner, not an insider with career-long relationships to protect and jobs to dispense.

What can Mayor Adams do to prevent a challenge by someone with Sewell’s credentials? Keep Sewell’s crime reduction strategies in place. Start managing by delegating.

Forty-nine percent of registered city voters had a favorable opinion of Hizzoner in a mid-May poll by Siena College.

Sewell could run to the right of Adams in a Democratic primary, though he’s more vulnerable to a challenge on the left. She’d also make an intriguing Republican candidate: a Black, female, former NYPD Commissioner who presided over a drop in crime during her tenure. And Sewell could take crime control, Adams’ signature issue, away from him.

It’s getting to that point in the 2025 mayoral cycle when candidates are floated, form exploratory committees and start raising money.

Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Boston have all had female mayors.

Who knows. New York City’s 111th mayor could also be its first female mayor.

It’s up to former NYPD Captain Eric Adams to pitch his way out of a jam.

If not, Sewell’s in the bullpen.