The Chief
September 14, 2007

Hope to Bolster Rank

NYPD Offers Free Sgt. Test Courses

By REUVEN BLAU

In a new effort to encourage more Police Officers to apply and study for the upcoming Sergeants' exam, the NYPD will begin to offer free exam preparation courses starting this week.

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JOHN F. DRISCOLL: Will cops be motivated?

The eight-session classes are set to begin Sept. 13 and will be held at the Police Academy in Gramercy Park, the NYPD said. They will be taught by Academy instructors who are familiar with the outline of the exam, sources said.

Only 217 officers had signed up as of Sept. 6, but that number is expected to greatly increase as the Sept. 25 filing deadline nears.

First Classes Since '80s

Department-led classes have not been offered by the NYPD since the mid-1980s. Those courses were stopped primarily because of waning interest as officers turned to privately-run classes.

The number of officers who apply for and pass the Sergeants' test has steadily dropped in recent years. Only 13 percent of the 4,934 officers who took the 2006 Sergeant exam passed it. That figure was down from the 1,729 out of the 7,196 participants, or 24 percent, who passed the 2003 exam.

PATRICK J. LYNCH: Pay still the main obstacle.
PATRICK J. LYNCH: Pay still the main obstacle.

Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly blamed the 6.5-percent passing rate for a test given in February on the prior Sergeants Benevolent Association contract, which reduced the starting salary to $61,093 for new Sergeants. That pay was only $1,505 more than the $59,588 Police Officers earn after 5-1/2 years of service.

But under a new pact negotiated by the SBA in July, the starting salary for new supervisors will be $73,000 effective July 1, 2008. That enhanced schedule reflected the Bloomberg administration's efforts to rebuild the salary structure for newly promoted Sergeants who had their pay stretched under the last agreement.

By the end of the deal, senior Sergeants will see overall compensation reach $103,000 with longevity pay, holiday bonuses, uniform allowance, and other benefits.

Will Upgrades Do Trick?

But it remains to be seen whether those raises will be enough to spur more officers to apply and study for the promotion test. "The Police Department wants people to get promoted," said John F. Driscoll, the president of the Captains' Endowment Association, who has worked in the department's personnel bureau. "The million dollar question is, are Police Officers motivated and will they take advantage of it?"

Patrolmen's Benevolent Association President Patrick J. Lynch argued that the department's shrinking cop ranks have played a role in the NYPD's promotion struggles. "The best way to fill the Sergeant ranks with qualified people is to attract the best people to become Police Officers, and that is not happening because top pay is not competitive," he said in a statement.

Police Officers welcomed the new study course. "It's the department that's holding it," one Brooklyn cop said. "They are the ones writing the test. So yeah, I'm taking it. You got to be stupid not to."

'Release Study Guide'

Mr. Driscoll noted that the department used to release study guides before promotion tests for a few years in the 1980s that helped officers key in on the germane topics. "I definitely think they should go back to the days of releasing the study guide," he added. "I was the one who originally pushed for it."

Further information about the classes can be obtained via the NYPD's internal Intranet site under the Finest Health section.

Filing opened last week for the scheduled Jan. 26, 2008 multiple-choice exam. Only NYPD cops who have at least three years' experience as Police Officers can apply. To be promoted, candidates must have worked as an officer for at least five years. Also, eligibles must have 64 college credits.

The multiple-choice exam is a difficult test that has traditionally been primarily based on the intricate Patrol Guide. It tests candidates' abilities to complete and/or review reports, forms and logs; make required notifications and other communications; interact with the community and implement programs; and make adjustments to roll call and assign personnel during tours.

The approximately eight-hour exam is also designed to gauge candidates' aptitude for monitoring subordinates, coordinating field activities, conducting preliminary searches/investigations, and safeguarding evidence and non-Police Department property. The passing score is 70 percent.

Points will be added to passing test scores for candidates with seniority and for cops who live in the city. Officers who have earned departmental awards and candidates with military experience will also receive extra points.