New York City Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell was the keynote...

New York City Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell was the keynote speaker at the 39th annual Freedom Fund Luncheon hosted by the Hempstead Branch of the NAACP in Westbury last week.  Credit: Rick Kopstein

Keechant Sewell’s last public act as the 45th NYPD commissioner in her relatively brief career with the nation's largest police department will be to preside over a promotion ceremony Friday morning at the police academy in Queens.

Later in the day, as Sewell becomes a civilian residing in Nassau County, many law enforcement officials and policing experts expect Mayor Eric Adams to reveal who her successor would be. Attention recently has centered around NYPD First Deputy Commissioner Edward Caban and current sanitation commissioner Jessica Tisch.

Adams has been coy about when he will announce his choice to replace Sewell, who many law enforcement officials said found the mayor’s micromanaging of the NYPD to be untenable during her 18-month term. 

“When I am ready to make the announcement, I will make the announcement,” Adams told reporters earlier this week.

WHAT TO KNOW

  • New York City Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell is leaving the nation's largest police department on Friday.
  • Her last official act will take her to Queens, where she will preside over promotions at the police academy.
  • She was the first woman to run the 34,000-member police department. Mayor Eric Adams has not yet named a successor.

Other possible candidates, sources say, include deputy mayor for public safety Phil Banks and head of city's probation department and former NYPD Chief Juanita Holmes.

Sewell, 51, stunned NYPD officials and the city when she suddenly announced on June 12 that she was resigning as top cop of the 34,000-member department after helping drive down serious crime.

Sewell, who was the first woman to serve as city police commissioner, declined to comment for this story.

New York City Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell and New York...

New York City Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell and New York Mayor Eric Adams appear at a news conference in Washington, D.C., in March 2022. Credit: AP/Evan Vucci

She has not said why she is leaving, but many law enforcement sources in the NYPD and policing world believe she found the situation under Adams challenging. 

“There were a lot of scandals over the years, a lot of police commissioners forced to retire, but none walked away like we had now,” ex-NYPD officer and police historian Michael Bosak said.

Jillian Snider, another ex-NYPD officer who is an adjunct professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, believed Sewell was something of a figurehead under Adams.

“I feel that everything within the police commissioner’s purview is being dictated by the Mayor,” said Snider. “Insiders were surprised she lasted as long as she did.”

Adams and Banks were so out front publicly on law enforcement issues that Snider said some of her students thought that it was Adams who ran the department.

That made Sewell’s job very difficult, said Richard Aborn, head of the New York City Citizens Crime Commission, a nonprofit public interest group devoted to advancing policy discussion about crime and law enforcement.

NYPD's first deputy commissioner Edward Caban speaks during a news conference on...

NYPD's first deputy commissioner Edward Caban speaks during a news conference on gun violence in New York City last week. Credit: Getty Images/Michael M. Santiago

The 57 year-old Caban, a Manhattan resident, is seen as the logical interim choice to replace Sewell because he was her second in command and can move seamlessly into the top job, former NYPD Commissioner William Bratton said.

“Caban is part of the inner circle, he would be a logical choice,” said Bratton. “He knows the various players … he has a big head start in that sense.”

Although Sewell was touted by Adams as the first woman commissioner in New York City history, she never had an easy time in what is a male-dominated culture of the department, said Snider.

Tisch, 42, whose family is well connected politically and wealthy — her father James is head of Loews Corporation — has operated in the administrative level of the NYPD for years.

Jessica Tisch at New York City Police Department's headquarters at...

Jessica Tisch at New York City Police Department's headquarters at One Police Plaza in Manhattan in 2016. Credit: John Roca

Tisch started out her career in New York City as a staff attorney, and later served as head of the department’s office of information and technology, where she supervised the roll out of the body camera initiative and other technological innovations. She was appointed by Adams to be sanitation commissioner in April 2022.

Tisch’s history of various jobs in the NYPD gives her familiarity with the command structure, said Bratton, noting she doesn’t have the practical law enforcement experience that seems to be a prerequisite for the job in the modern era.

Tisch didn’t return a request for comment.

“Almost every police [commissioner] in New York started out walking a beat,” Bratton said.

Caban, on the other hand, joined the NYPD as an officer patrolling the Bronx in 1991.

According to his official biography, Caban rose steadily through the ranks, making captain in 2005 and in 2006 commanded the 25th Precinct in Manhattan. In 2015, he was promoted to the rank of inspector.

Joseph Giacalone, a retired NYPD detective who also teaches at John Jay, said whoever takes over as top cop, the rank and file officers will continue to do their jobs.

“The police department can run itself,” Giacalone said.

A Newsday analysis shows the number of referees and umpires has declined 25.2% in Nassau and 18.1% in Suffolk since 2011-12. Officials and administrators say the main reason is spectator behavior. NewsdayTV's Carissa Kellman reports. Credit: Newsday Staff

'Why am I giving up my Friday night to listen to this?' A Newsday analysis shows the number of referees and umpires has declined 25.2% in Nassau and 18.1% in Suffolk since 2011-12. Officials and administrators say the main reason is spectator behavior. NewsdayTV's Carissa Kellman reports.

A Newsday analysis shows the number of referees and umpires has declined 25.2% in Nassau and 18.1% in Suffolk since 2011-12. Officials and administrators say the main reason is spectator behavior. NewsdayTV's Carissa Kellman reports. Credit: Newsday Staff

'Why am I giving up my Friday night to listen to this?' A Newsday analysis shows the number of referees and umpires has declined 25.2% in Nassau and 18.1% in Suffolk since 2011-12. Officials and administrators say the main reason is spectator behavior. NewsdayTV's Carissa Kellman reports.

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