Police Force Careers

by : tjacowski

The tenth amendment to the constitution confers police powers on the states. There are more than 18,000 police agencies in America today. Police departments at the state level may consist of the State police and the Highway patrol. At the municipal/metropolitan level there may be the housing, school and special port police departments among others.

There are about 15,000 municipal police departments in the U.S., but the NYPD enjoys a special status among them. It boasts of over 40,000 regular officers in addition to around 13,000 special purpose officers in different police departments such as animal cruelty, beach, harbor, hospital, housing, port, railroad, sanitation, school, and transit and transportation departments. There may then be specialized units under specific departments' e.g. airborne, bomb, forensic, narcotic and sex crime units. There are numerous career opportunities in the police department with a number of vacancies being advertised regularly.

Criteria For Selection

The NYPD conducts a written examination for recruitment for which the candidate needs to be at least 17 ? years of age at the minimum and 35 years at the maximum in order to appear for the exam. The hiring criteria is that the applicant should be at least 21 years on the date of hiring and should have successfully completed 60 college credits from an accredited college with a GPA of 2.0 or 2 years of full time military service in the United States Armed Forces with an honorable discharge and have a high school diploma or equivalent. The applicant has to be a US citizen on or before the date of hiring and must be residing within one of the five boroughs of the New York City or any of the surrounding counties on the day of hiring. He must have a driver's license and pass a drug /alcohol screening test.


Full pay and benefits are payable from the first day of training and today stand at around $25000 per annum. After completion of six months of Police Academy training this would increase to around $32000 and continue to increase with yearly rests. This is the base salary. After 5 ? years the base salary goes up to approximately $60,000 per year. In addition to the base salary there are also various other allowances such as overtime earning, holiday pay, night differential and uniform allowance.

For career advancement, every two to three years there are promotional examinations conducted by the NYPD for police officers. On successfully qualifying in these exams, one can go up to the rank of Lieutenant. The average earnings of a Lieutenant today are above $100000 per annum.

Retirement Benefits

Retirement benefits after 20 years of service to an officer of the NYPD consists of an annual pension amounting to approximately $46,000, in addition to full medical benefits, an annuity fund and deferred compensation plan. If the retiree is of a rank higher than a police officer, the pension is proportionately higher.
In the Chicago police department, the norms of recruitment are more or less similar with some difference in the pay packet and other benefits. They offer a starting salary of over $42,000 per year to their officers, which are increased to over $54,000 per year after a year of service, and to over $57,000 per year after 18 months.

A career in the police force offers good compensation and benefits. It is a job that commands respect from the society at large. It raises the self-esteem of the individual and helps to develop a sense of responsibility in the community. Before making a concrete decision to join any one of them, it would be advisable to gather information with respect to the eligibility criteria as well as the salary and other benefits including prospects of internal promotions within the police department.