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The New York City Police Department (NYPD), established in 1845, is currently the largest police force in the United States, with primary responsibilities in law enforcement and investigation within the five boroughs of New York Citymarker. The NYPD was the first police department established in the United Statesmarker. It has its headquarters in Lower Manhattan, New York Citymarker.


The NYPD has a broad array of specialized services, including tactical operations, K-9, harbor patrol, air support, bomb disposal, counter-terrorism, intelligence, anti-gang, narcotics, public transportation, and public housing. NYPD has extensive crime scene investigation and laboratory resources, as well as units which assist with computer crime investigations. The NYPD's headquarters at One Police Plaza houses an anticrime computer network, essentially a large search engine and data warehouse operated by detectives to assist officers in the field with their investigations. According to the department, its mission is to "enforce the laws, preserve the peace, reduce fear, and provide for a safe environment."

The New York City Transit Police and Housing Police were fully integrated into the NYPD in 1995; police officers are randomly assigned to the Transit and Housing units upon graduation of the police academy. Members of the NYPD are frequently referred to by the nickname New York's Finest. The NYPD is headquartered at One Police Plaza located on Park Row across the street from City Hallmarker.

The size of the force has fluctuated, depending on crime rates, politics, and available funding. The overall trend, however, shows that the number of sworn officers is decreasing. In June 2004, there were about 40,000 sworn officers plus several thousand support staff; In June 2005, that number dropped to 35,000. As of November 2007, it had increased to slightly over 36,000 with the graduation of several classes from the Police Academy. The NYPD's current authorized uniformed strength is 37,838.There are also approximately 4,500 Auxiliary Police Officers, 5,000 School Safety Agents, 2,300 Traffic Enforcement Agents, and 370 Traffic Enforcement Supervisors currently employed by the department.


Salary and retention issues

After years of bitter wrangling that saw starting pay for new officers fall to as low as $25,100 a year, the city and the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association on August 21, 2008 reached agreement on a new four-year contract.

The contract, which runs from August 1, 2006 to July 31, 2010, gives police officers a 17 percent pay raise over its four-year life, and raises starting pay from $35,881 to $41,975, and top pay from $65,382 to approximately $76,000 annually. With longevity pay, holiday pay, night shift differential and other additions, the total annual compensation for officers receiving top pay will be approximately $91,823, not including overtime. It should also be noted that this is the first contract since 1994 the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association and the City of New York mutually agreed on without involving a mediator.

While an improvement on the expired contract, the new terms still leave a substantial gap between the NYPD and nearby departments that pay considerably more, up to $50,000 for new hires and over $100,000 for more experienced officers. Over the years, hundreds of city officers have left for higher paying jobs with other agencies, notably the Nassau County Police Department, the Suffolk County Police Department, Westchester Countymarker police departments, and the Port Authority Police of New York and New Jersey. Discontent over pay issues has become so widespread and so well-known that higher-paying departments in lower cost-of-living areas, such as the Rochester, New Yorkmarker Police, the Albuquerque, New Mexicomarker Police, and the Seattle Police Department, are actively recruiting NYPD officers to join their forces.

Police departments in neighboring Rockland County and Westchester Countymarker have top base salaries ranging from around $85,000 to $105,000, not counting longevity, uniform pay, overtime and benefits. In 2007 a Westchester County Department of Public Safety officer reportedly made over $250,000 (with overtime), making him the highest paid police officer in the United States.

Large numbers of NYPD officers have also migrated to the New York City Fire Department, where, even though pay is comparable with that of the NYPD, work schedules are more attractive and relations with the public more amicable. Contract changes in 2006, however, now forbid the prior practice of allowing police officers who join the fire department to transfer their seniority for compensation purposes. With all new firefighters now compelled to begin working at the same starting pay, the number of NYPD officers "rolling over" to the FDNY is likely to fall considerably.

Some NYPD officers charge that the department's leadership is seeking to stem the flow of officers to other jurisdictions by administrative means. In January 2006, 35 NYPD officers seeking to move to the Port Authority Police sued the New York department, claiming that it was refusing to make their personnel records available to PAPD background investigators. The plaintiffs won an injunction at the trial level, but the Appellate Division in January 2007 overturned that ruling and ordered the case to trial.

For its part, the NYPD claims its actions are merely in line with the personnel practices of other employers and that there is no "stealth" effort to prevent officers from moving elsewhere. Nonetheless, it is a fact that no NYPD officers have been included in the last two PAPD police academy classes as a result.

Despite these obstacles, there are signs that the exodus from the NYPD may be accelerating. In 2007, 990 officers resigned before becoming eligible for retirement, on top of 902 who left in 2006, 867 in 2005 and 635 in 2004, which makes for an attrition rate of around two percent. While Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly insists that figure compares positively with turnover rates in private industry, police union officials note that the proper comparison should be with prior years on the NYPD. In 1991, for example, only 159 officers left early, for an attrition rate of less than one half of one percent.

Ranks of the NYPD

The supervisory ranks consist of twelve sworn titles (referred to as ranks). Promotion to the ranks of Sergeant, Lieutenant and Captain are made via competitive civil service examinations. After successfully passing these civil service exams you can proceed to the ranks of Deputy Inspector, Inspector and Chief at the discretion of the Police Commissioner. Additionally, within the ranks of Lieutenant and Sergeant are two career tracks "investigative" and "specialist" with lead to pay grade increases.

The entry rank of Police Officer is achieved after passing a civil service exam and completing the Police Academy Recruit School. Within the Police Officer rank are two career tracks "investigative" and "specialist", which lead to the designation of Detective. A Police Officer can receive the Detective designation, after completion of career track experience requirements in accordance with the negotiated Police Officer labor contract and approval of the Police Commissioner. Additionally, there are three pay grades within the Detective Designation for increased responsibility and experience. However, even the most senior pay grade of Detective does not include any supervisory authority and falls under the command of a Sergeant or above within their career track.

Title Insignia Uniform Shirt Color
Chief of Department
Bureau Chief
Assistant Chief
Deputy Chief
Deputy Inspector
Dark Blue
Police Officer

Dark Blue

There are two basic types of detective on the NYPD: "detective-investigators" and "detective-specialists."

Detective-Investigators are the type most people associate with the term "Detective" and are the ones most frequently portrayed on television and in the movies. Most Police Officers gain their Detective-Investigator title by working in the Organized Crime Control Bureau, Detective Bureau, Intel Division, Counterterrorism Bureau, or Internal Affair Bureau. Detective Bureau Investigators are amoung the personnel assigned to Precinct level squads which are responsible for investigating crimes within that precinct's boundaries. The Precinct level Squads are assited by other Detective-Investigators assigned to specialized units at either the major command or citywide level, investigating terrorist groups, organized crime, Homicides, narcotics dealing, extortion, bias crimes, political corruption, kidnappings, major frauds or thefts committed against banks or museums, police corruption, contractor fraud and other complex, politically sensitive or high-profile cases. A squad of detective-investigators are also assigned to each of the city's five district attorney's offices. (Arsons are investigated by fire marshals, who are part of the New York City Fire Department.)

Promotion from police officer to Detective-investigator is based on investigative experience. Typically, a Police Officer who is assigned to an investigative assignment for 18 months will be designated "Detective-Investigator" and receive the gold shield and pay increase commensurate with that designation. In the recent past, however, there has been controversy over the budget-conscious department compelling police officers to work past the 18 months without receiving the new title.

Newly appointed detectives start at Detective Third Grade, which has a pay rate roughly between that of Police Officers and Sergeants. As they gain seniority and experience, they can be "promoted" to Detective Second-Grade, which has a pay grade slightly less than Sergeants. Detective First-Grade is an elite designation for the department's most senior and experienced investigators and carries a pay grade slightly less than Lieutenants. All these promotions are discretionary on the part of the commissioner and can be revoked if warranted. And while senior Detectives can give orders to junior Detectives in their own squads, not even the most senior Detective can lawfully issue orders to even a junior Patrol Officer. Approximitly 80% of all Detectives are third grade, and usually retire in the lowest designation. While carrying with them increased pay and prestige, none of these grades confer on the holder any supervisory authority. Contrary to what is often portrayed by Hollywood, there is no specific rank of "Detective Sergeant" or "Detective Lieutenant."

Lieutenants and Sergeants are assigned to oversee Detective squads as supervisors, and are responsible for all investigations. However, that "Hollywood portrayal" is sourced with the small percentage who excel as investigative supervisors (approximately equal to 10% of their respective rank) and are granted the pay grade designation of Lieutenant Detective Commander (LDC) pay equivalent at the midpoint between Lieutenant and Captain. Sergeant Detective Supervisor (SDS)is the pay grade equivalent to a Lieutenant. Both of these grades assume investigative supervision responsibility over Detective Investagators of all grades. These designations are discretionary and not civil service titles.

Lieutenants and Sergeants in non-investigatory assignments can be designated Lieutenant-(Special Assignment) or Sergeant-(Special Assignment) for increased responsiblity in relation to the various non-investigatory tracks within the department. Both of these pay grade designations, are equivalent to their investigative counterparts.

"Detective-specialists" are a relatively new designation and one unique to the NYPD. In the 1980s, many detectives resented that some officers were being granted the rank of detective in order to give them increased pay and status, but were not being assigned to investigative duties. Examples included officers assigned as bodyguards and drivers to the mayor, police commissioner and other senior officials. To remedy this situation, the rank of detective-specialist was created. These officers are typically found in specialized units because they possess a unique or esoteric skill the department needs, e.g., sharpshooter, bomb technician, scuba instructor, helicopter instructor, sketch artist, etc. Like detective-investigators, detective-specialists start at third grade and can be promoted to second- or first-grade status.

The Department is administered and governed by the Police Commissioner, who is appointed by the Mayor. Technically, the commissioner serves a five-year term; as a practical matter, the commissioner serves at the Mayor's pleasure. The commissioner in turn appoints numerous deputy commissioners. The commissioner and his subordinate deputies are civilians under an oath of office and are not uniformed members of the force who are sworn officers of the law. However, a police commissioner who comes up from the uniformed ranks retains that status while serving as police commissioner. This has ramifications for their police pensions and the fact that any police commissioner who is considered sworn does not need a pistol permit to carry a firearm, and does retain the statutory powers of a police officer. Some police commissioners (like Ray Kelly) do carry a personal firearm, but they also have a full-time security detail from the Police Commissioner's (Detective) Squad.

A First Deputy Police Commissioner may have a security detail when he/she acts as commissioner or under other circumstances as approved by the police commissioner.

Commissioner titles:

Title Insignia
Police Commissioner
First Deputy Commissioner
Deputy Commissioner

These individuals are administrators who supersede the Chief of Department, and they usually specialize in areas of great importance to the Department, such as counter-terrorism, operations, training, public information, legal matters, intelligence, and information technology. Despite their role, as civilian administrators of the Department, they are prohibited from taking operational control of a police situation (with the exception of the First Deputy Commissioner).

Within the rank structure, there are also designations, known as "grades", that connote differences in duties, experience, and pay. However, supervisory functions are generally reserved for the rank of sergeant and above.

Badges in the New York City Police Department are referred to as "shields" (the traditional term). Lower-ranked police officers are identified by their shield numbers, and tax registry number. Lieutenants and above do not have shield numbers and are identified by tax registry number. All sworn members of NYPD have their I.D. card photos taken against a red background. Civilian employees of the NYPD have their I.D. card photos taken against a blue background, signifying that they are not commissioned to carry a firearm. All ID cards have an expiration date. Sworn police officers are referred to as "MOS" or, members of the service.

Organization & structure

The Department is divided into ten bureaus, six of which are enforcement bureaus. Each enforcement bureau is sub-divided into sections, divisions and units, and into patrol boroughs, precincts and detective squads. Each Bureau is commanded by a Bureau Chief (such as the Chief of Patrol, the Chief of Housing, Chief of Internal Affairs). There are also a number of specialized units (such as the Operations Unit and Compstat) that are not part of any of the Bureaus and report to the Chief of the Department.

Line of duty deaths

Since December 25, 1806, the NYPD has lost 769 officers in the line of duty. This figure includes officers from agencies that were absorbed or became a part of the modern NYPD in addition to the modern department itself. This number also includes officers killed on and off duty by gunfire of other officers on duty. The NYPD lost 23 officers on September 11, 2001, as well as 20 officers as a result of illness contracted from inhaling toxic chemicals while working long hours at Ground Zero and Fresh Kills Landfillmarker.

Type number Type number
9/11 related 23 Accidental 10
Aircraft accident 7 Animal related 17
Asphyxiation 3 Assault 31
Automobile accident 50 Bicycle accident 4
Boating accident 5 Bomb 2
Drowned 12 Duty related illness 10
Electrocuted 5 Explosion 8
Exposure 1 Fall 12
Fire 14 Gunfire 321
Gunfire (Accidental) 24 Heart attack 44
Motorcycle accident 36 Stabbed 24
Struck by streetcar 7 Struck by train 5
Struck by vehicle 37 Structure collapse 3
Terrorist attack 24 Vehicle pursuit 12
Vehicular assault 20 Total 769

Civilian Complaint Review Board (CCRB)

Events of police misconduct



The NYPD is 52.3% white with an increasing number of minority officers. Amongst minorities 17.4% of the officers are African American, 26.5% Hispanic, and 3.8% Asian American. This compares to a city population that is 27% Hispanic, 26.6% African American, and 9.8% Asian American. In 1970, there were only 300 sworn Hispanic officers on the force, in today's department there are over 9,000 sworn Hispanic officers. 2005 marked the first academy class with a minority majority where only 45.2% of the graduates were non-Hispanic Whites.


  • The department is affiliated with the New York City Police Foundation and the New York City Police Museummarker.
  • The department also runs a Summer Youth Police academy to provide positive interaction with police officers and to educate young people about the challenges and responsibility of police work.
  • The department also provides a citizen Police Academy which educates the public on basic law and policing procedures.
  • The department also charters a Law Enforcement Explorer Post, for young men and women interested in law enforcement.

Service pistols

Officers of the NYPD are allowed to select one of three 9mm service pistols that are configured in DAO (Double Action Only). Currently authorized pistols for new officers to select from include the SIG P226 DAO, Smith & Wesson 5906 DAO, and Glock 19. All are modified to a 12 pound (53 N) trigger pull. Senior officers who joined prior to January 1, 1994 are still authorized to carry Smith & Wesson Model 64 & Model 10 .38 Special revolvers.

Fictional portrayals

NYPD gallery

Image:byrnes.gif|Inspector Thomas ByrnesImage:Tr nyc police commissioner.jpg|NYPD Commissioner Theodore Roosevelt 1895File:Police Women.png|Police Women - Capt. Edyth Totten and women police reserve. New York City June 25, 1918File:NYPD-Motorcycles.jpg|NYPD officers on scootersFile:0460New York City NYPD.JPG|NYPD RMPsFile:NYPD Auxiliary RMP.jpg|A NYPD Auxiliary RMPFile:NYC NYPD Times Square.jpg|A NYPD Traffic Enforcement RMP

See also


  1. US DOJ Statistics 2000
  3. " Property Clerk." New York City Police Department. Retrieved on November 5, 2009.
  4. From database to crime scene
  6. NYPD Officers Get 17 Percent Raises over Four Years
  7. Police Officer Contract Breakdown
  8. Protect and Serve On Another Front; In an Increasing Job Migration, Police Officers Make the Switch From Crime Fighter to Firefighter," by Kevin Flynn, The New York Times, May 31, 1999, Section B; Page 1, Column 2; Metropolitan Desk
  9. Entering FDNY Back At Bottom on Pay; Council Enacts Deal Made Under UFA Wage Accord," by Ginger Adams Otis, The Chief-Leader, April 14, 2006
  10. "P.D. Holds Hostage Its PAPD Applicants," by Reuven Blau, The Chief-Leader, Jan. 26, 2007, Page 1, Column 2;
  11. "Rule NYPD Can Withhold Officer Files From PA; Has Effect of Blocking Transfers to Gain Higher Pay," by Reuven Blau, The Chief-Leader, Jan. 26, 2007, Page 1, Column 4;
  12. "Cop Exits Up 11%; Pay Prime Factor," by Reuven Blau, The Chief-Leader, March 7, 2008.
  13. Over Cop Exodu$," by Larry Celona and Bill Sanderson, The New York Post, Jan. 25, 2007, Page 4, Column 1.
  14. The Officer Down Memorial Page (
  15. New York City police officers who died in the World Trade Center attack [1]
  16. NYPD

External links

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