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How to Become a Police Officer in New York City

New York City is the largest city in the US, with over 8.5 million residents.1 Accordingly, the city has the largest police force in the US and its modern reputation for being tough on crime is world-renowned; despite its status as a mega-city, New York City has lower violent and property crime rates than similarly-sized metros.2 There are over 36,000 officers on active duty with the New York Police Department (NYPD) and recruitment is permanently ongoing.3 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 and at least 21 years of age on or before the day of hire
  • Be a legal resident of one of the five boroughs of New York City or the surrounding counties
  • Possess a valid unrestricted New York State driver’s license
  • Have a high school diploma or GED
  • Have completed at least 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
  • 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
  • Have uncorrected vision of at least 20/100 and corrected vision of 20/20
  • Not be colorblind; colorblindness is an immediate disqualifier

There are quite a few examinations for NYPD recruits who meet the above qualifications. 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. A passing score does not guarantee employment. Candidates who complete the exam may be invited to move forward in the process with a medical exam and written and oral psychological exams, followed by a background investigation. Next, candidates will complete a physical fitness Job Standards Test and drug and alcohol screening. Successful recruits will be placed in an upcoming police academy class.

For more information, see 10 Steps to Becoming a Police Officer on our homepage. Once ready to apply for a position in the NYPD, application information can be found at the NYPD recruitment page.

In September 2016, James P. O’Neill was sworn in as the New York City Police Commissioner. Commissioner O’Neill has had a long career in the law enforcement, which began as an officer with the New York City Transit Police in 1983. He has held the ranks of lieutenant, captain, executive officer, precinct commanding officer, inspector, and deputy chief. Commissioner O’Neill believes in a neighborhood policing model and positive police reform.

NYPD Police Academy

Once candidates have been approved for employment after the required testing and pre-hire interview, they are required to complete training at the NYPD Police Academy. The NYPD training academy is located on a 32-acre campus in Queens and boasts 750,000 square feet of training space, including mock training rooms modeled after family residences and public spaces.3 Academy training usually lasts 28 weeks and is followed by a 10-week field training process. New recruit classes enter the training process every month. For more information on NYPD recruit hiring and police academy training, consult the office of NYPD Recruitment.

New York Police Department Information

The NYPD is divided into 20 bureaus, 77 patrol precincts, 12 transit police districts, and nine police service areas, which are dedicated to city public housing. NYPD officers typically begin their careers in patrol, after which they may apply to move to specialty units. Bureaus within the NYPD include Counterterrorism, Crime Control Strategies, and Intelligence. Across the various bureaus, the NYPD also operates approximately 300 specialty units including aviation, organized crime control, major cases, criminal investigations, drug enforcement, and more.

The NYPD follows a collaborative community policing model that aims to promote options for public safety in cooperation with local citizens. This model is open to considering creative and innovative solutions that enhance public safety and improve access to police services. This model also focuses on “shared responsibility” in neighborhood policing, encouraging citizens to take a proactive stance against crime. The evidence for this model’s success is in the numbers: in 2017, the NYPD reported record-low violent crime numbers and historic reductions in various types of crimes, including shootings, robberies, and burglaries.4

The New York Police Department has quite a few programs that encourage active community participation. Ride Along, Civilian Observation Patrol, Block Watchers, Law Enforcement Explorers, and Summer Youth Police Academy programs are just a few of those available to local residents. For more information, contact the NYC Community Affairs Office.

Department Contact Information

1 Police Plz
New York, NY 10007
(646) 610-5000
NYPD Website
NYPD Facebook
NYPD Twitter

Salary, Benefits, and Jobs Outlook

After completing the Police Academy, the starting base salary of a new NYPD recruit is $42,500 per year, which generally increases every year.3 After five-and-a-half years of service, NYPD officers typically make a base salary of $85,292 per year plus overtime, shift differentials, and other incentives that can raise the salary above $100,000 per year.3 Other benefits for New York City cops include paid vacation and sick leave, a selection of medical benefit programs, and promotional opportunities. NYPD officers also have a range of retirement options, including an annual $12,000 variable supplement after retirement, deferred compensation plans, and a pension/annuity fund with optional retirement at one-half salary after 22 years of service.3

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average salary of a New York police officer is currently $74,560 per year.5 Statewide, employment of police officers is expected to grow by 9.4% through 2026, with an estimated 497 new jobs added each year.6 For more information on current NYC law enforcement positions, take a look at our job board page.

Cities and Police Departments Near New York

According to Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates, there are about 53,560 police and sheriff’s patrol officers working in the greater New York metropolitan area.1 While the majority of these officers work for the NYPD, there are opportunities in suburbs surrounding New York City for police officers who would prefer a less urban, but still exciting, working environment. The table below compares police employment and crime data for selected New York City-area municipalities.

CityForce Name/AbbreviationCity Population7Police Dept. Total Employees8Sworn Officers8Civilian Staff8Violent Crime Rate per 1,000 People9Property Crime Rate per 1,000 People9
Elizabeth (NJ)Elizabeth Police Department (EPD)130,215388293950.813.17
Newark (NJ)Newark Police Department (NPD)285,1541,3831,1132700.922.21
New RochelleNew Rochelle Police Department (NRPD)79,946211152590.221.47
New York CityNew York Police Department (NYPD)8,398,74851,39936,22815,1710.581.49
YonkersYonkers Police Department (YPD)202,019696613830.471.08

Additional Resources

  • New York State Office of Public Safety – The New York State Office of Public Safety administers police training programs as well as programs that aim to increase police productivity and public safety.
  • New York Fraternal Order of Police – The New York Fraternal Order of Police is a member-driven organization advocating for the police profession that offers benefits including financial education and assistance.
  • New York Association of Chiefs of Police – The New York Association of Chiefs of Police includes administrators from over 500 New York agencies and functions as a channel for information-sharing between departments and advocacy for improving laws, practices, and procedures impacting police work.

References:
1. Sperling’s Best Places, New York City, NY: https://www.bestplaces.net/city/new_york/new_york
2. US News & World Report Best Places to Live, New York City, NY: https://realestate.usnews.com/places/new-york/new-york-city/crime
3. New York City Police Department: https://www1.nyc.gov/site/nypd/index.page
4. CBS News, “Neighborhood Policing Program Builds Relationships to Cut Crime,” 27 Mar. 2018: https://www.cbsnews.com/news/nypd-community-policing-lower-crime/
5. Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2017 Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, New York-Jersey City-White Plains NY-NJ: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_35614.htm
6. Projections Central: http://www.projectionscentral.com/Projections/LongTerm
7. US Census Bureau, QuickFacts: https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/fact/table/US/PST045218
8. Federal Bureau of Investigation Uniform Crime Reports, Full-time Law Enforcement Employees by State by City: https://ucr.fbi.gov/crime-in-the-u.s/2016/crime-in-the-u.s.-2016/tables/table-26/table-26.xls/view
9. Federal Bureau of Investigation Uniform Crime Reports, Offenses Known to Law Enforcement by State by City: https://ucr.fbi.gov/crime-in-the-u.s/2016/crime-in-the-u.s.-2016/tables/table-6/table-6.xls/view