One of my closest college friends went to journalism school at NYU immediately following graduation. After two hard years of graduate education and a subsequent small-town reporter job, she moved back to New York City and did something that surprised all of us: she became a cop. She entered the NYPD academy in the late of spring of 2005 and transformed from wannabe to cadet to full-fledged police officer by the end of the year.
The path to a job as an NYPD police officer is long and complicated, weeding people each step of the way until only the best candidates are offered spots in the NYPD academy. Competition is fierce, especially with all the post-9/11 heroism hooplah yielding more applicants from a newly respecting public.
If you are wondering what the application and selection process is like for becoming an NYPD police officer, check out this overview. Of course, the biggest step is deciding that you want to become a cop in the first place. But once you have seriously reflected on the duties and decided to pursue a career as a police officer in the nation’s largest city, here’s what to expect from the NYPD recruitment process.
Basic Requirements for NYPD
In addition to age (21+) and citizenship requirements, NYPD requires prospective police officers to have taken at least 60 college credits or to have spent two years in active military service. Then, there’s the expected background checks, drug screening, fingerprinting, etc. There’s also a residency requirement, so before the date of hire, you must hold a valid NYC drivers license and live in one of the five boroughs of New York City. More details about these requirements are available at www.nypdrecruit.com.
Steps in the NYPD Officer Selection Process
1. Civil Service Exam. You must complete the application and take the civil service test administered by the Department of Citywide Administrative Services. If you pass this test, the DCAS notifies NYPD and you may continue in the selection process.
2. Basic Medical Exam, Character Prescreening, Education/Military Check, and Fingerprinting (all on one day). If you fail the medical exam or you rub the NYPD recruiters the wrong way, even in basic interactions, you will not make it to the next step.
3. Character Investigation. On this day, you will undergo a more detailed personal character review with an investigator, who will also study your application and address any discrepancies, missing documents, etc. If your character is deemed inappropriate, you will not move to the next step.
4. Written Psychological Exam. To ensure that they are getting recruits with mental profiles consistent with police work, NYPD will administer a standard psychological examination (not oral). As with previous steps, if you fail, you do not continue.
5. Oral Psychological Evaluation. This helps to round out the written exam, and the NYPD recruitment staff will no doubt be looking to probe you based on the results of the previous exam and your interactions during the character investigation. If you pass, you then get a physical challenge!
6. Job Standard Test. This is a “criterion-valid physical job task assessment.” In other words, NYPD will ask you to move through six stations of physical activity that are consistent with realistic on-the-job tasks, including a running surmount of a barrier (6 feet tall), a stair climb, a physical restraint simulation, a 600-foot pursuit run, a victim rescue (moving 35 feet with a 170-pound dummy), and a trigger pull (31 total shots). Candidates must complete this job standard test in under four minutes and forty-one seconds.
7. Pre-hire Interview. If you think you’re done after proving your physical prowess, think again. There’s one more step on the way to becoming an NYPD cadet. This final interview is basically a once-over of your complete file and performance to date.
If you’re lucky enough to make it through the whole process (as my friend did) and you win the favor of the NYPD recruiters, you will earn a spot in the NYPD academy as a cadet. While you are paid during this training, it’s grueling physically and mentally – not unlike boot camp or other basic military training. You can expect tough daily workouts, strict discipline (with a demerit-type system), classroom learning, and plenty of studying at home – all before you come close to touching a gun. Of course, you can also expect the “tough love” support from your superiors and the camaraderie of fellow cadets.