Table of Contents
- Training: Policy Academy
- NYPD and Mental Health Calls
- NYPD and CPR Training
The first step as mentioned before for becoming a New York City Police Officer is taking the NYPD test. The test is offered by the Department of Citywide Administrative Services. The minimum qualifications for taking the test are candidates must be at least twenty-one years old but candidates can take the police examination at seventeen and a half years, up until their thirty-fifty birthday. Other qualifications are candidates must be a citizen of the United States with a valid New York City Driver’s license, they should live in New York City or Long Island area within thirty days of being hired. Candidates must have at least sixty college credits with a minimum of a 2.0 GPA from an accredited university and if not they should have at least two years of active military service. Candidates must have no criminal record and must not have been dishonorably discharged from the military.
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Candidates must take and pass the exam, the exam measures reasoning ability, observational skills, and mental clarity. Like most city tests, if candidates passed the test the selection for a position is not guaranteed.
The second step in the process is those who are selected for a position must pass a physical, medical exam and background character investigation and a job standard test where candidates must complete a physical test in four minutes. On the NYPD website, there is a sample of the DCAS test but not on the second part of the hiring process.
Training: Policy Academy
Lastly the third step in the process is basic training on NYS and NYC laws such as penal laws (misdemeanors), training on knowledge of the constitution specifically Fourth, Fourteenth and Fifth Amendment protections and the law of arrest, followed by search and seizure, interrogation and basic investigation methods, vehicle and traffic laws which can be found in the patrol guide located on the NYPD website. As stated on the NYPD website trainees are trained in an emergency intervention such as responding to individuals with special needs i.e. mental health issues, substance abuse, and domestic violence. They are also trained in investigating and assisting crime victims and preserving crime scenes. In the NYPD, paperwork needs to be accurately filled out. Trainees are trained in filling out arrest paperwork such as property invoicing, preserving the chain of evidence and motor vehicle accident paperwork such as the MV-104. Also, trainees are trained in body conditioning, defensive tactics, baton training, frisking, and cuffing. They also receive first aid training on “cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and water safety skills”. The officers also receive “physical and nutritional guidance” provided during training by “certified Law Enforcement Fitness Specialists”. The NYPD also trains all candidates on firearms and tactics which teaches candidates the knowledge, maintenance, and mechanics of weapons. They are trained on other artillery such as pepper spray and tasers. As stated on the NYPD website the goal of the pepper spray and taser training is to develop “foundational skills and incisive judgment to de-escalate encounters and minimize occasions for the use of deadly force, while maximizing the safety of the community served”. This course is fifteen days of training with five days of basic instructions and ten days of tactical training. There is no information on the website regarding the duration of the time at the police academy but I asked an NYPD officer how long the program was and he said approximately six months. I also asked him when he found out where he would be stationed and he said the day before he graduated. I asked him if he knew how this decision was made he said: “did not know and he wished he knew”. Traffic enforcement and School safety is a separate unit within the police academy. Traffic enforcement is 12-14 weeks of training and School safety is 17 weeks of training.
NYPD and Mental Health Calls
As mentioned earlier the NYPD trains officers on dealing with mentally ill patients, this training is four days long and is taught by NYPD uniformed instructor and licensed mental health clinicians. The purpose of this training is to “The training concepts include the best practices approach to safely and effectively address the needs of persons in crisis”. The training consists of teaching the officers communications strategies that do not escalate the interaction, scenario-based training in simulated environments. This is where officers can process the skills they learned in an immersive training environment.
In the past three years, fourteen mentally ill people have died at the hands of the. NYPD “EDP” emotionally disturbed persons) calls have doubled and are increasing each year. (Smith, 2019 NY Magazine) Deborah Danner age 66 a paranoid schizophrenic with a history of hospitalizations was shot and killed by Sergeant Hugh Berry in her apartment. In this case, Danner was wielding a bat and failed to comply with Sargent Berry, who then rushed to subdue Danner forcing the altercation that killed her. During Sargent Barry's trial, his attorney argued that training offered by the NYPD set firm and set rules, often leaving decision-making in such instances to field supervisors Sargent Berry. (Goldstein and Mckinley Jr. February 02, 2018 New York Times).
It was reported that the NYPD would stop referring to dangerously unhinged people as “EDP” emotionally disturbed persons and they will now be called “mental health calls” (Moore and Golding, October 21, 2019, NY post). Part of a 37 million deal the NYPD plans on creating a “Behavioral Health Unit” which will hire Health Department workers who in the past struggled with psychological problems to help train its Emergency Services Unit (Moore and Golding, October 21, 2019 New York post) in two precincts, one in the 25th precinct in Harlem and the 47th precinct in the Bronx. Each precinct will get two “Co-Response Team” which will include two NYPD officers and a counselor, when the teams are up and running will end the policy of sending only cops and paramedics to respond to 911 calls about deranged individuals (Moore and Golding, October 21, 2019, New York post).
This will be the first-time mental professionals will be part of the City’s 911 response team. Another incident police received 911 calls about a man threatening people with a gun, witnessed said police fired almost immediately, the victim was Saheed Vassell, who suffered from bipolar disorder was waving a pistol-shaped metal car part at pedestrians. These are among the few examples of fatalities by the police and the mentally ill (Muller and Schweber, April 4, 2018, NY Times). However, there has been some public disagreement with the new policy from the general public and the NYPD.
NYPD and Anti- Bias Training
The police department began a training program focused on implicit bias as part of the Mayor Bill De Blasio administration’s ongoing efforts for police reform; this training is a part of a 41 million dollars contract with Fair and Impartial policing a Florida company “who leads this sort of training” (Baker, July 15, 2018, NY Times). The training consists of forty officers and two trainers, the classes start by asking the officers if they felt like they have been discriminated by civilians or fellow officers, which they admit they have in plain clothes and uniform. Then the training defines what implicit bias is and how it exhibits in policing, through group discussions, videos, and scenarios(Baker, July 15, 2018, NY Times).
After cases such as Eric Garner in Staten Island who was wrestled to the ground in a chokehold by police officers while repeating “I can’t breathe”, Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri who was fatally shot by an officer and Stephon Clark in Sacramento an unarmed black man who was shot while holding a cell phone in his grandmother’s backyard and many others. No one is certain of the effectiveness of the training offered, there are no standards and no curriculum and no track record of whether officers will be implementing the training in their work. (Baker, July 15, 2018, NY Times). Training alone might not resolve the ongoing issue of bias “the NYPD needs real policy changes”. Bias in the NYPD has been long-standing during the Bloomberg era when he introduced stop and frisk to the NYPD statics from the ACLU found that Black and Latino's people were likely to get frisked than whites and those frisked were less likely to have a weapon, during stop and frisks the NYPD used forced on 21,000 Black and Latino people and 2,200 white people, Black and Latinos stopped were more likely to have use of force used against them. The NYPD needs real policy changes from within, on October 25, 2019, a 19-year-old African American man put his hands above his head as several officers pointed gun on him for fare evasion in a Brooklyn train station (Shepherd, October 28, 2019, Washington Post).
NYPD and CPR Training
Brianna’s Law signed by Governor Cuomo on August 27, 2017, requires that state police officers and New York City Police officers receive CPR training before graduation from the academy and recertification every two years after. The law changes the requirement of NYPD practices because NYPD officers were not required to complete CPR training and recertification.
Eleven-year-old Brianna Ojeda had an asthma attack on a playground in Brooklyn; her parents did not want to wait on an ambulance. In a rush to drive her to Long Island College Hospital, they were stopped by an NYPD officer for driving the wrong way down a one-way street. Ms. Ojeda told the officer Brianna needed CPR he said he did not know how to perform it. By time Brianna reached the emergency room she had died. This is just one instance where the NYPD was ill-prepared to handle emergencies. On November 20, 2014, Officer Peter Liang and his partner Shaun Landau were on a night patrol on a dark stairwell in the Louis H. Pink Houses in the East New York neighborhood when Officer Liang fired a shot that ricochet off a wall and hit Akai Gurley piercing his heart and killing him on the spot. At the trial when Liang was asked why he hadn’t performed CPR on Gurley he stated that he was not properly trained. Liang’s partner Landau also backed the story that he too was not properly trained in CPR at the academy and told the jury that they were given the answers to the CPR test in advance. This then leads to an internal investigation into Officer Melissa Brown who was the instructor in charge of teaching 300 students in the police academy. Brown was placed on administrative duty for conducting insufficient CPR training. Implementing this law is just the push the NYPD needed to enforce life-saving techniques that are needed for policing because of the wide range and spontaneous situations officers perform on the job.