Exclusive: 1-on-1 with NYPD Commissioner Keechant Sewell

ByAnthony Johnson and Eyewitness News via WABC logo
Monday, October 31, 2022
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Eyewitness News' Anthony Johnson spent time with NYPD Commissioner Keechant Sewell.

NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- It is one of the hardest jobs on the planet, running the country's largest police force.

New York Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell is not the type to let the dust settle under her feet.

Entering the 181 Street subway station brought the commissioner and Eyewitness News reporter Anthony Johnson face-to-face with New York's underground reality.

Helping the mentally ill and stopping turnstile jumpers are priorities.

"We're not going to arrest our way out of this, there are people in the subway that should not be living in the subway, there are people living on the streets of the city that shouldn't be living on the streets in the city," Sewell said. "There's gotta be another answer, it's not just the police department, it's gonna take all of us working together to resolve these issues."

Anthony Johnson asked Sewell, how she will make New Yorkers feel safer underground.

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"It comes down to visibility, putting out officers into the transit system," Sewell said. "We've surged a number of our officers into the system so people have the visibility."

A lot of the subway attacks have been caught on surveillance video, but how much does that impact suspects looking to carry out their attacks?

"Well cameras help with our apprehension and I think that's important to when you have an apprehension and prevent future victims down the line," Sewell said.

The conversation turned to the concerns of New Yorkers which the commissioner is anxious to hear.

"I love talking to people, I think that it's so important that we connect with the people, I want them to tell me what they need from their police department and that's so important," she said.

From crime below ground to the streets, the commissioner is using every resource at her disposal.

She was asked about the dangers of people jumping on mopeds, motorcycles and getting out stolen cars.

"A lot of times those bikes have fake plates or no plates so they are difficult to track," Sewell said. "We seize a generous portion of them."

Because some crimes are hard to stop, Anthony Johnson asked Commissioner Sewell about returning to the days of "stop-and-frisk."

"It was being overused, but it is a legally permissible -- stopping is effective. New Yorkers are smart people, if you stop a person explaining to them what the situation is, especially if you unfortunately stop the wrong person, explain to them why," Sewell said.

Often times during the visit, the commissioner took time to greet her officers on the street and pose for pictures at the fruit stand while sharing her recipe for Brussels sprouts.

Commissioner Sewell says she wanted to be a lawyer but finds this work more rewarding.

She added that if the NYPD and New Yorkers work together, crime will be reduced. She was confident about that.

"Cooperating with the police department is key, being the eyes and ears, that force multiplier that we need to keep the city safe is truly something we rely on New Yorkers for," Sewell said.

The police commissioner tells Anthony Johnson she knows she has a lot of work to do but won't stop until everybody in the city feels safe.

RELATED: Eyewitness News is tracking crime and safety across New York City and in your neighborhood

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