If you are an NYC resident with a passion for preventing and investigating crime, a career with the NYPD may be right for you. The NYPD takes pride in the highly trained and specialized members of its Detective Bureau. The decision to promote an officer to the rank of Detective is largely based on the officer’s merit and experience, and the discretion of their commanding officers. You may be able to attain your goal of becoming an NYPD Detective if you meet the NYPD’s requirements for becoming an officer, complete the necessary training, and gain enough relevant work experience.
EditMeeting the Basic Requirements
Meet the age requirements for becoming an officer. Although you can take the NYPD entrance exam once you are at least 17.5 years old, you must be at least 21 before you can be appointed as an officer. You must pass the entrance exam before your 35th birthday.
Complete the NYPD’s educational requirements. In order to be hired as an officer by the NYPD, you need to have completed at least 60 college credits and earned a minimum 2.0 GPA from an accredited school. Alternatively, you must have served at least 2 years of active service in the U.S. Armed Forces.
Provide proof of citizenship and residency in NYC. You must be a U.S. citizen to serve as an NYPD officer. Additionally, you must hold a valid New York driver’s license. You will need to provide proof of residency in one of the 5 boroughs of NYC, or in Nassau, Suffolk, Rockland, Westchester, Putnam, or Orange County, within 30 days of being hired. Proof of residency may include:
A current lease or letter from your landlord including dates of tenancy and rent payments.
A utility bill showing your name and current address.
Your voter registration card.
Income tax returns showing your current address.
An automobile registration certificate or insurance policy.
Make sure you do not have any disqualifying factors. A variety of factors may disqualify you from serving with the NYPD. Before applying to the NYPD, consider whether you:
Have ever been convicted of a felony or domestic violence misdemeanor.
Were dishonorably discharged from the military.
Have a demonstrable history of disrespect for the law (e.g., a pattern of repeated convictions or arrests).
Have violent tendencies.
Have ever been fired from a job due to poor behavior or difficulty dealing with authority.
EditApplying to Become an Officer
Take the Police Officer’s Entrance Exam. The first step to being considered for employment with the NYPD is to pass the entrance exam. You must be at least 17.5 years old and under the age of 35 to take the exam. Fill out an NYPD Recruit Police Officer Registration form here to get information on how to take the exam: https://recruit.nypdonline.org/. If you fail the exam or are unsatisfied with your score, you can sign up to take it again. The exam will test your skills in:
Written comprehension and expression
Deductive and inductive reasoning
Fill out all required application forms. Once you have passed the entrance exam, you must submit to a multi-part candidate screening process. You must register online and complete a series of application forms to begin this process. Start by creating an account here, and following the prompts: https://a056-crimestoppers.nyc.gov/applicanttracking/index.html
Pass the medical exam. The screening process begins with a medical exam, which is administered by a Police Department Doctor at the Medical Division, 1 Le Frak City Plaza, 59-17 Junction Blvd., Corona, NY 11368. Bring copies of your medical records and report any medical conditions you have that require medication. If the doctor has any concerns about your physical condition, you may be placed on medical review. If this happens, you might need to present more detailed medical records or take further medical tests. The basic medical exam will include:
A vision test. Your corrected vision must be at least 20/30, and your uncorrected vision in each eye must be at least 20/100. Bring your glasses or contacts to the exam.
A hearing test. Hearing aids are not allowed during this test. You must be able to hear sounds no louder than 35 decibels, ranging from 500 hertz to 6000 hertz, with each ear.
A blood pressure test. You must have a controlled blood pressure of no greater than 140/90, as well as a pulse of fewer than 100 beats per minute. For best results, do not eat or drink any products containing caffeine or other stimulants within 24 hours before the test.
An electrocardiogram to test for any cardiac problems.
A medical history assessment and general physical exam.
Submit to a character pre-screening. The character pre-screening is conducted at the Medical Division. During this screening, you must submit proof that you have completed at least 45 college credits with a GPA of 2.0 or higher, or that you have done military service. You will also need to provide fingerprints and report any criminal history or character issues.
Meet with your Investigator to complete your character investigation. If you pass the character pre-screening, you must attend 1 or more interviews with an investigator to review your application. You must attend all scheduled appointments and bring any required materials to your interview(s).
Bring identification documents to your interview(s). When you attend meetings with your investigator, you will be required to bring a wide variety of documents relating to your identity and background. Make sure to bring the following identification documents:
An official copy of your birth certificate with a raised seal
Records of name change, if applicable
Naturalization papers, if you are a foreign-born citizen
Certificates and records relating to your marital status, if applicable
Your Social Security Card
Your driver’s license and motor vehicle registration for any vehicles owned by you or your spouse
2 proofs of residency (e.g., a copy of your lease and a utility bill)
Selective Service Registration and Classification Cards
Provide evidence of your education and work experience. In addition to ID documents, you will need to bring records of your education or time served in the armed forces, along with your employment history. Bring copies of the following to any interviews with your investigator:
Your high school diploma (or equivalent), transcripts from college, and diplomas from any completed college degree programs
Original Discharge or Separation papers for military service, if applicable
Your employment history for the past 10 years or since the age of 18
Present any required financial documents. As part of your background investigation, you must provide evidence of your financial history. Bring these and any other required documents to any interview(s) with your investigator:
W-2 forms and tax returns for the past 5 years
Records of disability benefits or workmen’s compensation benefits
Records of outstanding debts
A Social Security Detailed Earnings Report
Provide any other requested background information. Your investigator may also ask for other documents pertaining to your past and current activities and affiliations. You may need to present some or all of the following:
Membership cards from any unions and social or fraternal organizations to which you belong
Records of any arrests or trials at which you were a defendant
Any licenses you hold from a government agency (e.g., a pistol license or a liquor license)
A DMV Lifetime Driver’s Abstract from every state in which you have held a driver’s license
Take written and oral psychological exams. Both psychological exams will take place at the Medical Division. After you complete the written exam, you will meet with a psychologist and answer questions. Keep your answers during the interview open, honest, and clear.
There is no specific preparation you can do for a police psychology evaluation. The psychologists evaluating your written and oral responses are trying to get an idea of your honesty, general personality, and suitability for the stresses of police work.
You will be asked questions designed to evaluate various aspects of your personality, including emotional stability, social competence, adaptability, assertiveness, dependability, attention to safety, ethics and integrity, ability to tolerate stress, and decision-making skills.
Complete the Job Standard Test. The Job Standard Test will assess your ability to perform a variety of physical tasks in a short period of time (4 minutes and 28 seconds). The components of the Job Standard Test are the Barrier Surmount, the Stair Climb, the Physical Restraint Simulation, the Pursuit Run, the Victim Rescue, and the Trigger Pull. These tasks involve sprinting, climbing, resisting (simulated) physical force or restraint, running or jogging, dragging heavy weights over long distances, and operating a dummy weapon with your non-dominant hand. You will need to be in good physical shape to complete the test successfully. The NYPD suggests that candidates prepare by:
Eating a well-balanced diet in the days leading up to the exam and avoiding junk food, tranquilizers (such as alcohol), and stimulants (such as caffeine).
Getting plenty of rest and avoiding any intense exercise 24 hours before the exam.
Fasting for at least 1.5 hours before the exam.
Wearing a T-shirt, sweat pants, sneakers, and batting gloves on the day of the exam.
Appeal within 30 days, if you are disqualified. You can be disqualified from service with the NYPD if you fail your medical exam, psychological exam, or background check. Fortunately, you have the option of filing for an appeal with the Civil Service Commission. You must file your appeal in the form of a certified letter within 30 days of your disqualification.
A civil service attorney can help you through the appeal process, including writing your appeal letter and gathering supporting evidence for your appeal.
If you failed your medical or psychological exam, you must see an independent medical or psychological professional (e.g., your own primary care doctor or a private psychological therapist) and have them write up their own report supporting your suitability for the job.
You must submit any supporting medical/psychological documentation within 60 days of filing your appeal.
If the Commission decides to consider your appeal, they may schedule a hearing. If you are working with an attorney, they should attend the hearing and present arguments on your behalf. If you were disqualified for medical reasons, bring your doctor.
EditAttaining the Detective Rank
Complete your Police Academy training. All new NYPD recruits must complete rigorous training with the NYPD Police Academy. Your training will consist of a variety of components, including both classroom and tactical instruction. You will also gain practical experience in the form of a 3-week field assignment part-way through your academy training course.
Gain work experience. In most cases, promotion to the status of detective is discretionary, meaning that there is no specific exam or procedure for becoming a detective. You may need to spend several years gaining practical experience as a police officer before your superior officers and/or the Police Commissioner decide you are ready to become a detective.
However, you are automatically eligible for promotion to the rank of 3rd Grade Detective (the lowest detective rank) after spending 18 months doing work that is considered investigative (e.g., serving as a plainclothes officer).
Seek additional education. You may be able to increase your chances of becoming a detective if you gain additional training and education after becoming police officer. The NYPD offers a variety of educational opportunities to its employees, including a partnership with the CUNY John Jay College of Criminal Justice. Talk to your commanding officer about how additional training could help you achieve detective status.
Consider taking courses in crime scene investigation, forensic science, or any area of specialization that you are particularly interested in (e.g., homicide investigations, missing persons, or weapons trafficking).
Develop an exemplary record on the job. In most cases, you must get a recommendation from a superior officer in order to be considered for promotion to detective rank. Do your best to distinguish yourself by performing outstanding work, taking time to develop your skills, and going above and beyond what is asked of you during the course of your regular duties.
For example, you might take a writing class to help hone your skills at drafting exceptionally thorough, well-written police reports.
You might also catch your supervisor’s attention by demonstrating exceptional risk assessment and problem-solving skills.
Demonstrate your suitability for the detective role by maintaining high personal and professional standards for honesty, integrity, and ethical behavior.
EditSources and Citations
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