If you are a New York resident and passionate about preventing and investigating crime, a career in the New York Police Department (NYPD) may be right for you. The NYPD prides itself on the highly trained and skilled members of its detective office. The decision to promote an officer to the rank of detective is based largely on the merit and experience of the officer, and the discretion of his commanding officers. You may be able to achieve your goal of becoming a NYPD detective if you meet the requirements to become an officer, complete the necessary training, and gain sufficient relevant work experience.
Part 1 of 3: Meet the Basic Requirements
Step 1. Meet the age requirements to become an officer
Although you can take the NYPD entrance exam once you are at least 17½ years old, you must be at least 21 years old before you can be appointed as an officer. You must pass the entrance exam before your 35th birthday.
Step 2. Complete the NYPD educational requirements
To be hired as an officer by the New York Police Department, you must complete at least 60 college credits and earn at least a 2.0 GPA from an accredited school. Optionally, you must serve at least 2 years of active duty in the United States Armed Forces.
Step 3. Provide proof of citizenship and residency in New York City
You must be a citizen of the United States to serve as a New York Police Officer. Also, you must have a valid New York driver's license. You will need to present proof of residency in one of New York's 5 counties, or 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 that includes lease dates and rent payments
- a utility bill showing your name and current address
- voter registration card
- tax returns showing a current address
- a car registration certificate or insurance policy
Step 4. Make sure you don't have disqualifying factors
A variety of factors can disqualify you from serving on the NYPD. Before applying to the NYPD, consider whether:
- Have you ever been convicted of a felony or domestic violence misdemeanor.
- You were dishonorably discharged from the army.
- You have a demonstrable history of disrespecting the law (for example, a pattern of repeated convictions or arrests).
- You have a tendency to violence.
- Have you ever been fired from a job due to bad behavior or difficulty dealing with authority?
Part 2 of 3: Apply to be an Officer
Step 1. Take the Police Officer Entrance Exam
The first step in being considered for employment with the NYPD is passing the entrance exam. You must be at least 17 1/2 and under 35 to take the exam. Complete a NYPD Recruitment Police Officer Registration Form here for information on how to take the exam: https://recruit.nypdonline.org/. If you don't pass the test or are not satisfied with the score, you can sign up to take it again. The exam will test your skills in:
- written comprehension and expression
- deductive and inductive reasoning
- informative classification
- Spatial Orientation
- sensitivity to problems
Step 2. Complete all required application forms
Once you have passed the entrance exam, you must undergo a multi-part candidate selection 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 instructions:
Step 3. Pass the medical exam
The evaluation process begins with a medical examination, which is administered by a physician from the Medical Division Police Department, 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 your doctor has any concerns about your physical condition, you may be examined by a doctor. If this happens, you may need to submit more detailed medical records or do more medical tests. The basic medical exam will include:
- A vision test. Corrected vision must be at least 20/30, and uncorrected vision in each eye must be at least 20/100. Bring your glasses or contact lenses to the exam.
- A hearing test. Headphones are not allowed during this test. You should be able to hear sounds no higher than 35 decibels, ranging from 500 hertz to 6000 hertz, with each ear.
- A blood pressure test. You should have a controlled blood pressure of no more than 140/90, as well as a pulse of less than 100 beats per minute. For best results, do not eat or drink any products that contain caffeine or other stimulants within 24 hours of the test.
- An EKG to check for heart problems.
- An evaluation of your medical history and a general physical exam.
Step 4. Submit to a preselection based on your character
Character-based screening is done in the Medical Division. During this exam, you must present proof that you completed at least 45 college credits with a grade point average of 2, 0 or higher, or that you completed your military service. You will also need to provide fingerprints and report any criminal history or character issues.
Step 5. Meet with the investigator to complete the character-based screening
If you pass this shortlist, you must attend one or more interviews with an investigator to review the application. You must attend all scheduled appointments and bring the necessary materials to the interviews.
Step 6. Bring identification documents to interviews
When you attend meetings with the investigator, they will ask you to bring a wide variety of documents related to your identity and background. Make sure to bring the following identification documents:
- an official copy of the birth certificate with an embossed seal
- name change records, if applicable
- naturalization documents, if you are a foreign citizen
- certificates and records related to your marital status, if applicable
- the social security card
- the driver's license and motor vehicle registration of any vehicle owned by you or your spouse
- 2 proofs of residency (for example, a copy of the lease and a utility bill
- selective service of registration and classification cards
Step 7. Provide evidence of your education and work experience
In addition to identification documents, you will need to keep records of your education or length of service in the military, along with employment history. Bring copies of the following to any interview with the investigator:
- a high school diploma (or equivalent), college transcripts, and diplomas from any completed college program
- original discharge or separation documents for military service, if applicable
- employment history for the past 10 years or since age 18
Step 8. Submit any required financial documents
As part of your background investigation, you must provide evidence of financial history. Bring them and any other required documents to any interview with the investigator:
- W-2 forms and tax returns for the last 5 years
- records of disability benefits or workers' compensation benefits
- outstanding debt records.
- a detailed report of Social Security earnings
Step 9. Provide any other requested background information
The investigator may also request other documents related to your past and current activities and affiliations. You may need to submit some or all of the following:
- membership cards of any union and social or fraternal organization to which you belong
- records of arrests or trials in which you were charged.
- any license you hold from a government agency (for example, a gun license or a liquor license)
- a lifetime driving summary from the DMV for each state in which you have had a driver's license
Step 10. Take written and oral psychological tests
Both psychological tests will be carried out in the Medical Division. After completing the written exam, you will meet with a psychologist and answer questions. Keep your answers open, honest, and clear during the interview.
- There is no specific preparation you can do for a police psychology evaluation. Psychologists who evaluate written and oral responses try to get an idea of your honesty, general personality, and capacity for the stresses of police work.
- You will be asked questions designed to assess various aspects of your personality, including emotional stability, social competence, adaptability, assertiveness, dependability, attention to safety, ethics and integrity, the ability to tolerate stress, and decision-making skills.
Step 11. Complete the standard test of work
The Standard Work 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 Standard Test of Work are the Surmount Barrier, the Ladder, the Physical Restraint Simulation, the Search Race, the Victim Rescue, and the Trigger Pull. These tasks involve running, climbing, resisting (simulating) physical force or restraint, running or jogging, dragging heavy weights long distances, and operating a dummy weapon with the non-dominant hand. You must be in good physical shape to complete the test successfully. NYPD suggests that candidates prepare by:
- Eat a well-balanced diet in the days leading up to the test and avoid junk food, tranquilizers (such as alcohol), and stimulants (such as caffeine).
- Get plenty of rest and avoid any strenuous exercise 24 hours before the exam.
- Fast for at least 1 hour and a half before the exam.
- Wear a t-shirt, sweat pants, athletic shoes, and batting gloves on the day of the test.
Step 12. Appeal within 30 days, if you are disqualified
You can be disqualified from service with the NYPD if you fail the medical exam, psychological exam, or background check. Fortunately, you have the option of filing an appeal with the Civil Service Commission. You must file the appeal in the form of a certified letter within 30 days of the disqualification.
- A civil service attorney can help you through this process, including writing your appeal letter and gathering supporting evidence for your appeal.
- If you failed the medical or psychological exam, you should consult an independent medical or psychological professional (for example, your own primary care physician or a private psychological therapist) and have them write their own report that supports your ability to work.
- You must submit any supporting medical or psychological documentation within 60 days of filing the appeal.
- If the Commission decides to consider the appeal, you can schedule a hearing. If you work with an attorney, they must attend the hearing and present arguments on your behalf. If you were disqualified for medical reasons, take your doctor.
Part 3 of 3: Reach the rank of Detective
Step 1. Complete the Police Academy training
All new NYPD recruits must complete rigorous training with the NYPD Academy. The training will consist of a variety of components, including both classroom and tactical instruction. You'll also get hands-on experience in the form of a 3-week field assignment in the middle of the academy training course.
Step 2. Gain work experience
In most cases, promotion to the rank of detective is discretionary, which means that there is no specific exam or procedure to become a detective. You may need to spend several years gaining practical experience as a police officer before higher officers or the Police Commissioner decide that you are ready to become a detective.
However, you are automatically eligible to advance to the rank of third-degree detective (the lowest detective rank) after spending 18 months doing work that is considered investigative (for example, serving as a plainclothes officer)
Step 3. Seek additional education
You may be able to increase your chances of becoming a detective by obtaining additional training and education after becoming a police officer. The NYPD offers a variety of educational opportunities to its employees, including a partnership with CUNY's John Jay College of Criminal Justice. Talk to your commander about how additional training can help you achieve the rank of detective.
Consider taking courses in crime scene investigation, forensic science, or whatever area of expertise you are particularly interested in (for example, homicide, missing person, or gun trafficking investigations)
Step 4. Develop an exemplary record at work
In most cases, you must get a recommendation from a higher officer to be considered for promotion to the rank of detective. Do your best to distinguish yourself by doing outstanding work, taking time to develop your skills, and going above and beyond what is required of you while performing regular tasks.
- For example, you can take a writing class to help hone your skills in writing exceptionally thorough and well-written police reports.
- You can also grab the supervisor's attention by demonstrating exceptional risk assessment and problem-solving skills.
- Demonstrate your capacity for the role of detective by maintaining high personal and professional standards of honesty, integrity and ethical behavior.