NYPD Commissioner Sewell says cops don’t have to live in city to be good officers

Cops invested in the neighborhoods they patrol matter more than where they live, Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell said Wednesday.

“If you work in the city and have a post in this city I want that officer to have an investment in that community — no matter where he or she lives,” Sewell said at a Crain’s New York Business breakfast. “Whether I live in that community or not, when I come to work those are my people. This is my community. I’m responsible for this block. I’m responsible for this neighborhood so that connection is very important to me.”

Mayor Adams had a different take.

”Police officers should come from the communities that they’re policing in, particularly in a place like New York,” said Adams hours later while noting the change in law needed to require cops to live within the five boroughs.

“I’m a big believer and always believed that our law enforcement personnel should be in the city of New York,” the mayor said. “It is really [about] understanding the diversity of the city.”

Adams in January 2022 said Sewell was working on a program to encourage cops to move to the city or stay in the city. The NYPD and City Hall on Wednesday could not immediately provide any details on that initiative.

Sewell herself does not live in the city. She bought a home in Valley Stream 16 years ago “six or seven blocks into Nassau County” and has said she would move into the city if City Hall ended the de Blasio-era executive order that paused the requirement that various city commissioners live somewhere in the five boroughs.

She also said she doesn’t spend much time there.

“I think I live here in New York City more than I live anywhere else,” Sewell said. “The job demands it.”

NYPD officers haven’t been required to live in the city since the 1960s. About 48% of them as of last year were in the city, the rest living on Long Island or north of the Bronx in Westchester, Putnam, Rockland or Orange Counties.

Legislators at different points have pushed for the law change necessary to requiring cops live in the city — and police unions have said cops, whose salaries start of $42,500, don’t make enough to live in the city.