How to Become a Police Officer in New York City
New York City has the largest police force in the US and its reputation for being tough on crime is world renowned. There are approximately 34,500 officers on active duty in the New York capital and recruitment is permanently ongoing.1 As recently as December 2013, the city swore in 1,171 graduating police officers for service. For anyone looking to become a police officer in New York City, there are several requirements which are outlined in detail below.
New York City Police Officer Requirements
Candidates looking to become NYC police officers must fulfill a number of requirements in order to be eligible for employment. Applicants must be a US citizen of at least 21 years of age* on or before the day of hire and be legal residents of one of the five boroughs of New York City or the surrounding counties. Additionally, all candidates for NYPD must have a valid unrestricted New York State driver’s license before being hired as a police officer.
Regarding education, all applicants must have a high school diploma or its equivalent and are additionally required to complete 60 college credits with a 2.0 GPA from an accredited college or university or 2 years of full-time active military service in the United States Armed Forces with an honorable discharge.
For physical requirements, all police recruits must have uncorrected vision of at least 20/100. Corrected vision with glasses, contact lenses or after a LASIK surgery has to be 20/20. Color-blindness is an immediate disqualifier for eligibility.
Candidates eligible for service in the NYPD must have no prior felonies, or any repeated convictions including petit larceny, any domestic violence charges, or any crime that may represent a disposition towards violence and disorder.
*There are some age exceptions for former military service.
Examinations Required for New York City Police Recruits
There are quite a few examinations for NYPD recruits. All candidates must take a written Civil Service examination, administered by the Department of Citywide Administrative Services (DCAS). The Police Officer Written Exam measures cognitive ability, observational skills and mental acuity of applicants. In order to begin a career as an NYC cop, you will have to achieve a passing score on all tests, although a passing score does not guarantee employment. Additionally, after a candidate has successfully passed the written Civil Service examination as well as the Job Standard Test, aspiring cops must also submit to a character and background examination, oral psychological exam, drug/alcohol screening, medical physical and physical agility test.
In January 2014, William Joseph “Bill” Bratton was sworn in (for the second time) as New York’s New York City Police Commissioner. Bratton has had a long career in the law enforcement, which began with a Bachelor of Science in Law Enforcement from the University of Massachusetts-Boston and was a research fellow at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University.
New York Police Department Information
The current size of the New York City Police Force is approximately 34,500 active officers. The department is overseen by the New York City Police Commissioner, a civilian administrator appointed by the Mayor of New York City. There are ten bureaus in the NYC Police Department and six of those ten are enforcement bureaus. Each one of the enforcement bureaus is subdivided into distinct sections, units and divisions, and further divided into precincts, patrol boroughs and detective squads.
The NYPD operates approximately 300 specialty units including: Aviation, Highway Patrol, Harbor Unit and Scuba Team, Mounted Unit, Auxiliary Police, Organized Crime Control Bureau, Transit Bureau, Housing Bureau, Transportation Bureau, Specialized Units, Emergency Services, Detective Bureau, Major Case Squad, Special Victims Unit, Major Case, Squad, Taxi Squad/Anti-Crime, Real Time Crime Center, Task Forces, Bomb Squad, Technical Assistance Response Unit, Movie and Television Unit, Evidence Collection Teams, School Safety Division, Cadet Corps, Paid Detail Unit, Crime Scene Analysts, Criminal Investigations, Drug Enforcement and more.
New York Police Training Academy
Once candidates have been approved for employment after the required testing and pre-hire interview, they are required to complete a training process at the New York Police Academy. The training process usually lasts 28 weeks, following by a 10-week field training process. New recruits enter the training process every month. In January of 2013, 830 police officers entered the NYPD Police Academy.
For more information on NYPD recruit hiring and the police academy training process, consult the information found at the office of NYPD Recruitment.
New York Police Salary and Jobs Outlook
After completing the Police Academy, the starting base salary of a new NYPD recruit is approximately $42,000, and generally increases every year.2 According to Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average salary of a NY police officer is currently $76,750.4
For more information on current NYC law enforcement positions, take a look at our job board page.
More Information on the NYC Police Department and Crime
The New York Police Department has quite a few programs that encourage community participation. Ride Along and Civilian Observation Patrol Programs are available to local residents. For more information, contact the NYC Community Affairs Office.
- New York Law Enforcement Council: http://www.nyslec.org/
- New York Fraternal Order of Police: http://www.nysfop.org/
- New York Association of Chiefs of Police: http://www.nychiefs.org/
1. NYC.gov: http://www.nyc.gov/html/nypd/html/faq/faq_police.shtml
2. NYPD Recruit: http://www.nypdrecruit.com/
3. NYC Gov: http://www.nyc.gov/html/nypd/html/home/home.shtml
4. Bureau of Labor Statistics: https://www.bls.gov/oes/