A detail including the badge and shield of one of the newest members of the New York City police is seen during his graduation ceremony, Thursday, June 29, 2017, in New York. (AP Photo)
Sewell, who will also be only the third Black person in the post, will have to restore community trust in a police department that has faced accusations of harboring violent, racist and corrupt officers in its ranks.
Former police officer and Democratic mayor-elect Eric Adams, who will be the city's second Black mayor, announced the key appointment two weeks before formally taking office on January 1, 2022, with security one of the main issues during his campaign.
"Keechant Sewell is a proven crime fighter with the experience and emotional intelligence to deliver both the safety New Yorkers need and the justice they deserve," Adams told The New York Post.
Commanding approximately 36,000 police officers in the largest city in the United States, Sewell, 49, will shoulder the tough task of maintaining security in New York at a time when the coronavirus pandemic has been accompanied by a surge in crime.
"We welcome Chief Sewell to the second-toughest policing job in America. The toughest, of course, is being an NYPD cop on the street," said Patrick Lynch, head of the main police union in the city, the Police Benevolent Association.
Sewell is currently chief investigator in Nassau County, east of New York City.
"We are absolutely focused on violent crime," she told the Post. "Violent crime is the number one priority."