June 12, 2002

NYPD Ups and Downs

Despite rise in applications, number of test takers low

By Melanie Lefkowitz STAFF WRITER

Fewer than one-third of the people who filled out Police Department recruitment applications have shown up so far to take the police exam, police officials and the officers' union said yesterday.

Historically, about half of those who fill out the applications actually take the test. But nearly three times as many people filled out applications this year compared with last year, partly because they were able to apply online for the first time.

The Patrolmen's Benevolent Association, which is involved in an ongoing contract dispute with the city over police salaries, said yesterday that the numbers show the department's highly publicized recruitment drive has been a failure.

But Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, who made headlines with a recruitment effort that traveled to Ivy League campuses, described that effort as "historic, ongoing and successful."

Two testing dates remain, but city officials say the Saturday exam, which is already past, is generally the busiest.

"There is only one reason that the NYPD is not attracting enough candidates, and that's because terrorism has made policing a growth industry in America, and other police departments are dramatically outpaying the NYPD," union president Patrick Lynch said in a statement.

Starting salary for a city police officer is $31,305.

The Police Department said yesterday that it received 32,606 applications in a two-month recruitment drive — the highest number in nine years. (The union said 38,000 people applied.) More than 17,000 applications were filed online.

Kelly also pointed out that the recruitment effort netted the most diverse group of applicants ever — 60 percent minorities and 30 percent women.

"Recruitment is a full-time, year-round process," Kelly said. "Our goal is quality, not quantity."