New York City Police Department - Ranks of The NYPD (2022)

Ranks of The NYPD

This articles discusses ranks of the NYPD proper; whereas the School Safety Division, Traffic Control Division, Auxiliary Police Section and Police Academy have their own rank and grade structures despite being part of the NYPD and commanded by officers of the NYPD proper command structure.

Officers begin service with the rank of Probationary Police Officer, alternatively referred to as P.P.O. or informally within the department, as a Probie. After six months of training at the Police Academy and after successfully completing various Academic, Physical and Tactical tests, officers graduate the Police Academy and are promoted to the rank of Police Officer and receive a corresponding pay grade increase.

There are three career "tracks" in the New York City Police Department. The supervisory track consists of 12 sworn titles, referred to as ranks. Promotion to the ranks of sergeant, lieutenant and captain are made via competitive civil service examinations. Promotion to the ranks of deputy inspector, inspector and chief are made at the discretion of the police commissioner, after successfully passing all three civil service exams. Promotion from the rank of Police Officer to Detective is determined by the current police labor contract with approval of the Police Commissioner. The entry level appointment to detective is third grade or specialist. The Police Commissioner may grant discretionary grades of first or second grade. These grades roughly correspond to compensation equivalent to supervisors. Specifically, a second grade detective's pay roughly corresponds to a sergeant and a first grade detective's pay roughly corresponds to a lieutenant. Detectives are police officers that have been given titles and have no official supervisory authority. A Detective First Grade still falls under the command of a Sergeant or above. Similar to detective grades, Sergeants and Lieutenants also can receive pay grade increases within their rank.

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The other two tracks are the investigative track and the specialist track.

TitleInsigniaUniform Shirt ColorBadge designBadge ColorBadge Numbered
Chief of DepartmentWhiteMedallion with eagle and starssilver-gold, silver starsno
Bureau ChiefMedallion with eagle and stars
Assistant ChiefMedallion with eagle and stars
Deputy ChiefMedallion with eagle and star
InspectorMedallion with eaglesilver-gold
Deputy InspectorLaurels and crown with oak leaves
CaptainLaurels and crown
LieutenantMedallion
Sergeant
(sleeve)
Navy BlueShield with eagleyellow goldyes
Detective (grades 3–1)Medallion
Police OfficerShieldsilver
Probationary Police Officer
Recruit Officer
Slate Grey
none
TitleInsigniaBadge Design
Bureau Chief/Supervising Chief SurgeonMedallion with eagle and stars
Assistant Chief Chaplain/SurgeonMedallion with eagle and stars
Deputy Chief Chaplain/SurgeonMedallion with eagle and star
Chaplain/Police SurgeonMedallion with eagle


There are two basic types of detective in 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 title by working in the Narcotics Division of the Organized Crime Control Bureau and are then moved to the Detective Bureau. Detectives assigned to squads are co-located within each precinct and are responsible for investigating murders, rapes, robberies, burglaries and other crimes within that precinct's boundaries. Other detective-investigators are assigned to specialized units at either the major command or citywide level, investigating terrorist groups, organized crime, 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.)

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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 Officer and Sergeant. 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 directions to junior detectives in their own squads, not even the most senior detective can lawfully issue orders to even a junior patrol officer. All Detective grades still fall under the "chain of command" of the supervisory ranks beginning with Sergeant through Chief of Department. Detectives, like Police Officers, are eligible to take the promotional civil service exams for entry into the supervisory ranks.

While carrying with them increased pay and prestige, none of these Detective grades confer on the holder any supervisory authority. Contrary to some media portrayals, 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.

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There is a small percentage of Lieutenants and Sergeants who work as Investigative Supervisors (approximately equal to 10% of their respective ranks) and are granted the prestigious pay grade designations of "Sergeant—Supervisor Detective Squad" (SDS), or Lieutenant—Commander Detective Squad (CDS) therefore assuming full Investigative command responsibility as opposed to operational supervision. Their pay grade rises to an approximate midpoint between their normal rank and the next highest rank's pay grade, and similar to a Detective's "grade", is also a discretionary promotion. This pay grade designation is achieved by assignment to Investigative units, i.e. Detective Bureau, Internal Affairs Bureau, Counter-Terrorism Bureau, Intelligence Bureau, and Organized Crime Control Bureau. Lieutenants and Sergeants in non-investigatory assignments can be designated Lieutenant-Special Assignment or Sergeant-Special Assignment, pay 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., crime-scene techs, 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.

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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:

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TitleInsignia
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 Commissioner and 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), though not all badge designs are strictly shield-shaped. Every rank has a different badge design (with the exception of Police Officer and Probationary Police Officer), and upon change in rank officers receive a new badge. 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 the 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 "UMOS" or uniformed members of the service, while the term "MOS" can refer to either a sworn Police Officer or a civilian member of the department.

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