The NYPD faces a potential leadership crisis due to a sharp decline in the number of cops who want to be promoted to captain — and a surging failure rate among those who do.
Photo credit: New York Police Department
The NYPD faces a potential leadership crisis due to a sharp decline in the number of cops who want to be promoted to captain — and a surging failure rate among those who do, The Post has learned.
Only 21 percent of the lieutenants eligible to take the captains test did so last year, down from 66 percent in 1997, according to internal NYPD figures.
The results of the 2013 exams haven’t been released, but only 19 percent of lieutenants scored a passing grade of 70 or higher on the test in 2012, the data show. That year, only 19 percent of eligible lieutenants took the captains exam. That dismal performance was the worst in 15 years.
Lieutenants, who previously passed the sergeants and lieutenants exams, have complained that the latest two tests were full of irrelevant questions, making it difficult to pass, a source said. But it’s not only the rigorous test that’s keeping New York’s Finest from climbing the ladder.
NYPD sources said many lieutenants are opting against seeking promotions because captains don’t earn overtime, resulting in a de facto pay cut.
In addition, captains don’t enjoy steady schedules as do lieutenants, and also get barraged with extra duties outside their day-to-day precinct work, for which they still remain accountable.
“You go from one nonsense meeting to another, and you might have to do that for six or seven years before you get a decent assignment,” one lieutenant said of the reasons to pass on becoming a captain.
Captain is the rank at which a cop becomes eligible to command one of the city’s 77 precincts or specialized units — such as Emergency Services and Counter-Terrorism — as well as the Detective Bureau and Organized Crime Control Bureau.
With about 400 captains currently on the job, NYPD sources said there’s no shortage yet.
But the lack of interest in becoming a captain has forced the department to offer the captain’s exam three times since 2010, compared to just four times in the 13 prior years.
But a retired NYPD deputy inspector said, “The city is robbed when some of its best and brightest decide not to advance. An organization is better when its people are striving to advance — and that is not the case with the NYPD.”
Professor Eugene O’Donnell of the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, a decorated former NYPD cop, warned, “You could be losing a whole generation of police leaders.
“This affects every single New York City resident in a real way, because it really affects the service delivery on every street and in every neighborhood in the city.”
Roy Richter, president of the Captains Endowment Association, said, “I consider it a failure that fewer and fewer of our highest-performing lieutenants seek promotion to the next rank.
“It comes down to salary and schedule,” Richter said. “My union needs to work on the salary part through collective bargaining, and the NYPD [has] to normalize the schedule captains maintain.”
Richter said he was “encouraged” that Police Commissioner Bill Bratton, who in January started his second stint running the NYPD, “wants to break this cycle and have top leaders move to more responsible positions.”
The NYPD did not return a request for comment.
Bratton spoke to members of the Lieutenants Endowment Association at their monthly meeting in February, but sources said he didn’t address the issue.
Republished with permission of The New York Post