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#NYPD Commish Keechant Sewell blasts sexist put-downs

“NYPD Commish Keechant Sewell blasts sexist put-downs”

NYPD top cop Keechant Sewell suggested she’s faced belittling sexism and second-guessing by those who “don’t know any better” in a fiery speech last month to the Policewomen’s Endowment Association.

In a rhetorical but deeply personal message to a future female police commissioner, Sewell said, “You will get free, unsolicited personal advice: ‘Your hairstyle is wrong, you look tired, already worn out in less than a year. You should wear different clothes. You are not qualified. You are in over your head.’

“None of this is true,” Sewell, the first woman in history to lead the NYPD, said during the 5 1/2-minute speech at the PEA’s 101st Annual Awards and Scholarship Dinner Dance on Nov. 18.   

The provocative speech escaped the media’s notice at the time, but was brought to The Post’s attention this week.

sewell giving a speech
NYPD top cop Keechant Sewell suggested she’s faced belittling sexism and second-guessing by those who “don’t know any better” in a fiery speech last month to the Policewomen’s Endowment Association.
NYPD PEA/Instagram

Sewell, 50, earned a rousing ovation from the hundreds in attendance. But her critique, which circulated through the department, miffed the Mayor’s office, an NYPD insider said.

“Its a shot at the administration,” the source said. “It’s about respect.”

Sewell gave the speech – recorded on a video posted on the PEA’s Instagram page – in the form of a letter of advice to a future successor.

“Dear Second Woman to be the New York City Police Commissioner,” she began. “Whether you are in this room tonight or reading this in the future I write to you having taken stock in the 11th month of my tenure.”

sewell and adams
Sewell, 50, earned a rousing ovation from the hundreds in attendance, but her critique did not please the Mayor’s office, an NYPD insider said.
Daniel William McKnight for NY Post

“You are different,” she lectured. “You will be treated as such. Don’t be offended when people who don’t know you tell others who you are. Try not to take it personally when people you have never met tell others what you think. Understand that you will be second-guessed, told what you should say, told what you should write by some with half your experience. They don’t know any better.”

She continued, “When you are no pushover, you will be called difficult. When you do things your own way, you don’t listen. You are paranoid. Your very existence is a problem for many. But I, every woman in this room and every woman with dirt on her face in this arena, is counting on you. You are no experiment. You are no box checker. This is no social promotion and this was no gift.”

A little over a year ago, Mayor-elect Eric Adams tapped Sewell, then Nassau County Chief of Detectives, to lead the NYPD — a stunning, close-to-home pick from a nationwide field of seasoned top women officers.

sewell gives speech
Sewell gave the moving speech – recorded on a video posted on the PEA’s Instagram page – in the form of a letter of advice to a future successor.
Getty Images

“I’m here to meet the moment,” Sewell told The Post in an exclusive interview last year, a few weeks before she became the city’s 45th top cop.

Sewell advised her successor:  “You don’t have to be loud to be strong. You don’t have to curse to be taken seriously. Compassion is not a weakness. Quiet competence is a strength.” 

She added,  “You will need to speak up for women who juggle families, study for promotion and special assignments who are overlooked, underestimated and counted out. And some of the best damn cops and civilians I’ve ever seen.” 

Sewell urged, “Some are fighting to fit in when they are meant to stand out. Take a stand for what is right even when your legs are tired. Take a moment if your voice trembles, then give someone a direct order. You are no victim and no one should feel sorry for you. You are the one who stepped forward to lead 35,000 Type-A personalities [cops} and 17,000 very dedicated souls [civilian employees] to focus on the safety and security of 8.8 million people and that … responsibility is no longer assigned a gender.”

sewell at conference
“I’m here to meet the moment,” Sewell told The Post in an exclusive interview last year, a few weeks before she became the city’s 45th top cop.
Paul Martinka

“I’m here to meet the moment,” Sewell told The Post in an exclusive interview last year, a few weeks before she became the city’s 45th top cop.

In closing, Sewell said, “YOU represent progress. YOU represent possibility. It is an awesome responsibility with tremendous challenges. Take it like a woman.”

The pep talk earned high praise.

A female NYPD employee who attended the gala told The Post, “Her words touched me in so many ways because women are often not valued in the workplace, disrespected and underpaid. The Police Commissioner is paving the way for future female leaders, and a lot of young girls view her as their ‘Shero.’”

Joseph Giacalone,  a retired NYPD sergeant and adjunct professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, called Sewell’s speech a “message of empowerment” that women in the NYPD “need to hear” because they have a tough time in the police department. “It’s still a male-dominated job.”

Giacalone said Sewell was “calling people out, but didn’t see it as an indictment of Adams” or Philip Banks III,, a former NYPD leader and current deputy mayor public safety.

“She’s qualified to do this job. I don’t think they [Adams and Banks] have given her a chance to shine,” he said.

Less than two weeks after Sewell’s address, the NYPD was “blindsided,” The Post reported, by Adams’ announcement that  cops will start taking some homeless people into custody for psychiatric evaluations.

Last week, Chief Jeffrey Maddrey, who has a rocky history including a sex-harassment lawsuit, took over as the department’s highest-ranking uniformed cop, and on Friday, the NYPD underwent a massive shakeup with 18 other changes in police brass.

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