“The Job” is still open.
Despite a stronger-than-usual response during a recruitment period that was to conclude April 27, the NYPD has extended the filing deadline until May 4 for a Police Officer exam scheduled for June. It also has waived the $40 fee.
The recruitment drive, the department’s first in two years, attracted over 8,000 applicants aspiring to be Police Officers in its first three weeks, or about 425 applicants a day, significantly more than the 350 who applied on average each day during the four previous recruitment periods, the NYPD’s Chief of Personnel, Martin Morales, said.
‘Make a Difference’
Some departments, including Philadelphia’s and others in that city's suburbs and in New Jersey, are struggling to attract candidates. But despite a widespread sense of compromised morale within the department brought about by anti-police demonstrations and protests that followed the police-involved deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and others, as well as policing-reform efforts by city and state lawmakers, the NYPD appears to still be a destination department.
“We’re known for being the biggest and the best” throughout the nation, Chief Morales said.
In the weeks leading up to the application period, department officials held a series of events to publicize the recruitment drive, in part, they said, to expand the candidate base so that eventual hires would better reflect the population the department serves.
“Be the change,” became the NYPD’s de facto recruitment motto.
“Joining the NYPD is a way to make a difference,” Chief Morales said.
Through the first three weeks of the recruitment period, Hispanics comprised 37.5 percent of applicants; blacks 23.5 percent; and Asians 13.6 percent, Chief Morales said. Significantly, the percentage of black applicants--traditionally underrepresented in the NYPD--was up 5 percentage points from the last recruitment period two years ago, the Chief said.
Those numbers better approximate the city’s population than the department’s current makeup, which has nonetheless become increasingly diverse over the years.
As of early April, 46 percent of uniformed members were white, 29.5 were Hispanic, 15.2 were black and 9.3 were Asian. According to Census figures from 2019 cited by the department, 32.1 of city residents are white, 29.1 are Hispanic, 24.3 percent are black and 13.9 percent are Asian.
A study published in the academic journal Science in February that looked at four years of officer behavior in Chicago found that Hispanic and black officers made “far fewer stops and arrests” and were less likely to use force than white officers, particularly against blacks. The authors concluded that “diversity reforms can improve police treatment of minority communities.”
Notwithstanding comparatively low starting pay (which doubles for officers after 5.5 years on the job), heightened interest in an NYPD career could be spurred by an uncertain, post-pandemic job market.
But any influx of officers will ultimately depend on two crucial factors: The city’s budget picture and the next Mayor’s law-and-order leanings. Several of the major candidates seeking the Democratic nomination, among them Maya Wiley, Scott Stringer and Shaun Donovan, have articulated a vision for public safety in the city that decreases the NYPD’s footprint in favor of greater engagement from community-based organizations, even though the city has experienced steep increases in shootings and killings in recent months. One longshot hopeful, Dianne Morales, has pledged to slash $3 billion from the NYPD budget if elected.
In any case, Mayor de Blasio’s successor will have to address, in one way or another, fast-declining numbers of officers. Last year, 2,600 officers retired, about 72 percent more than the 1,509 who retired in 2019, according to the NYPD. Another 554 resigned. So far this year, 348 officers have retired and 256 have resigned.
Two Classes of Recruits
The department counts just under 35,000 uniformed officers, or about 500 more than six months ago, but still below ideal numbers, police officials say.
Two academy classes are now underway, however, with the first, 900-member group scheduled for graduation in the coming weeks.
They, and their superiors, will hope to be joined by an influx of others who put in for The Job as the city began a gradual return to routine after more than a year of profound uncertainty.