A team of NYPD officers will come to campus today for a recruitment forum as part of an increased effort to attract students from several top Northeastern colleges.
“We feel that by including the Ivy League schools we would be able to get some of the best people from the schools to consider a career in law enforcement,” NYPD Sergeant Bob Mayo said.
Mayo said the department has traditionally concentrated primarily on New York City’s five burroughs. It is now expanding its efforts, however, to recruit out of state and in upstate New York. In addition to enlarging their geographic area, the most notable change in their recruitment approach is their now-direct contact with schools such as Yale, Temple, New York University, Columbia, and Harvard.
“They haven’t recruited directly [at Yale] before,” director of undergraduate career services Philip Jones said in an e-mail. “They see the publicity they’ve received because of 9/11 as offering an opportunity to perhaps attract more attention from Ivy League applicants.”
A similar forum at Columbia last week was attended by less than a dozen students. Following the low turnout, the department decided to open today’s forum at Yale to the public.
“I would think we would do better than [Columbia], but I doubt attendance of Yalies will be huge,” Jones said. “This is not to suggest that Yale students are not supportive of the NYPD, but rather that there are limited numbers who would see actually working directly in it as an attractive career option.”
Citing opportunities in departments from computing to forensics to the NYPD’s legal bureau, Mayo said that he hopes today’s forum will tackle exactly that problem by broadening the conception of what working in the NYPD entails.
“When you think of the NYPD, you think of one isolated officer walking on patrol or radio car but goes beyond that. There are a lot of different opportunities to work in lot of different places,” Mayo said.
Several students said they think the NYPD’s image has improved since Sept. 11. But even without negative stereotypes, getting students to consider trading in a white collar for a blue collar — literally — may be difficult, especially at a school where many head straight for corporate office jobs after graduation.
The starting salary at the NYPD is $31,305 — just under this Yale’s 2001-2002 total for tuition and room: $34,030. It is not, Mayo said, a job you do for the money, but rather for the job itself.
“You won’t get rich monetarily but you will be rich in experience,” he said.
James Weingarten ’01 agreed.
“As far as making an impact day-to-day on how people live in the city, it’s probably one of the best jobs you can pick,” he said. A resident of New York and a first-year analyst at Morgan Stanley, Weingarten said he had considered law enforcement as a career “once or twice, on occasion.”
“But I think every kid dreams of that, becoming a police officer,” he said. “In general, I thought it would be interesting, but ultimately, it seemed like too difficult a job almost. It’s something that would take a huge amount of commitment and definitely not something one should just do lightly.”
The NYPD recruitment forum will be at 4:00 pm today in Linsly-Chittenden 102. The majority of the time will be devoted to an open question and answer period, and there also will be an opportunity for interested students to sign up to take the written examination, Mayo said. Those who pass the written exam have up to four years to decide whether or not to join the department, a parameter that has allowed the department to recruit as early as the twelfth grade — another deterant for some college students.
“I didn’t spend $125,000 on an education to do something I could do out of high school,” said a student who wished to remain anonymous. “Plus, my parents would probably not be happy.”
Entrance requirements for the police academy involve a written test, a physical agility test and physical exam, a psychological written test, and an extensive background check, Mayo said.
Despite the seemingly simple picture, it remains a hard sell.
“It’s kind of like a catch-22. People don’t want to go into something in law enforcement because they’ve invested so much in their education,” Jason Cabico ’04 said. “And what would a Yalie do with a $150,000 education at the NYPD? I think he’d be stigmatized as someone who got a big old fancy education up in Connecticut.”
Mayo encourages people to attend the forum if only out of curiosity. He admits that joining the NYPD is not the type of job for anybody.
“You’re going to do things that other people working in an office are never, ever going to be able to do or see,” he said. “The experience you’re going to gain — you can’t compare that to working a regular 9 to 5 job.”