Looking for a Job? Law Enforcement May Be Looking for You

By Kevin Gray

The New York City Police Department (NYPD)—and other police departments—is recruiting at more college campuses because one of the requirements for job candidates is that they attain 60 college credits before the department can hire them.

"Because of this requirement, college recruiting, both inside and outside the city, is our primary recruiting tool," explains NYPD deputy inspector Martin Morales, the commanding officer in charge of recruiting for the department.

Many college students take the NYPD's written test—which is offered during recruiting drives three times each year—as sophomores or juniors because the results remain active for four years.

"With that in mind, we have candidates who take the test earlier in their academic careers, for instance when they have 45 credits, so they are ready to go upon graduation," Morales says.

Candidates also must undergo character, background, medical, psychological, and drug tests. The process can take anywhere from two months to a year. Last year, the NYPD tested 27,000 candidates and brought in 2,500 new recruits; approximately 2,250 had the requisite 60 college credits. The only way to bypass the requirement for college credits is to serve two years of active military duty. According to Morales, approximately 10 percent of the NYPD's recruits fall into this category.

The NYPD's recruiting department (www.nyc.gov/nypd or 212/RECRUIT) is made up of Morales, a lieutenant, four sergeants, and more than 30 recruiters. The unit works with more than 180 colleges and universities within a 150-mile radius of New York City. In addition, the NYPD holds several remote recruiting events each year. Last year, for instance, the NYPD recruited at Harvard and Cornell, and offered tests open to the public at Harvard.

With more than 50,000 employees and burgeoning fields such as counterterrorism and computer crimes, the NYPD accepts students from all majors.

"Students in almost any college major could work for us, from, for example, computer science majors to work in our computer crimes bureau to education majors to work as training officers or academy instructors," Morales notes.

More important than a candidate's major, however, are the qualities he or she possesses. "The NYPD seeks mature men and women who can be entrusted with awesome responsibility," Morales explains. "Ideal candidates should have good communication skills, common sense, and a command of their emotions."

Diversity is strong in the pool of recruits. Morales says, "Last year, our recruits were 30 percent African American, 30 percent Hispanic, and 30 percent Caucasian."

Opportunities to work with the department are available to college students throughout their academic careers. The NYPD has an internship program that begins with first-year college students. First-year college students are considered cadet trainees and are assigned to a transit or housing bureau, or to a precinct. After they reach 45 credits, they enter the full cadet program. Once they graduate, the interns are police officers.

One of the benefits of participating in the NYPD internship program is the scholarship program. Students receive a $5,000 scholarship per semester. If they remain on the force for two years after graduation, the loan is forgiven, Morales says. He should know; Morales is a product of the NYPD's internship program.

"What I have found during my career with the NYPD is that employees have unlimited opportunities," Morales says. "We're out in the real world and solving community problems. It's a great place to serve."

If you're interested in a career in law enforcement, but are not in the NYPD recruiting area, contact your college or university career center for details on enrolling in a law enforcement academy near you.

Bio: Kevin Gray is an associate editor at the National Association of Colleges and Employers. Email:kgray@naceweb.org

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