How to Become a Police Officer in New York State


Police officers in New York State include state police, city police officers and environmental conservation police officers. The last group is typically known as game wardens in other states. Each of these groups may have some similar as well as different requirements for age, education and other qualities. Some local police departments, for example, may require that officers live in the community they serve. Environmental conservation officers, or ECOs, must meet specific education requirements.

Skills and Characteristics

  • Police officers need certain skills and characteristics to perform their jobs. These include communication skills, empathy, good judgment, leadership skills, perceptiveness, physical stamina and physical strength, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The New York Police Department includes some of these characteristics and adds others. NYPD officers, for example, need self-discipline and should be cooperative and respectful toward peers, instructors and supervisors. The NYPD also expects its recruits to have good interpersonal skills so that they can interact in a professional manner with a wide variety of people from different cultures and backgrounds.

State Police Troopers

  • New York State Police, called troopers, must be U.S. citizens. They must be appointed to the position between the ages of 21 and 35, although veterans can obtain an extension of the maximum age limit. Troopers must be New York residents and have a valid New York driver’s license. All troopers must pass medical examinations, visual acuity testing and physical ability tests. Education requirements include a high school diploma, GED or military GED. Troopers must also have completed at least 60 hours of college education. Thirty hours of the college education requirement may be waived if the candidate has an honorable discharge from the military after two years of active military service or has completed an approved Certified Police Officer Training Course.

Local Police Officers

  • Local police departments have different requirements for aspiring officers. In the city of Buffalo, for example, candidates must be between the ages of 19 and 35 on the examination date, must live in Buffalo or one of the surrounding counties and have completed either 60 college credit hours or two years of continuous military service. In New York City, requirements are similar as far as education and residence. However, applicants must be at least 17 ½ and less than 35 years old on the Civil Service examination date and at least 21 on the date of hire. New York City also specifically notes potential disqualifications, such as a dishonorable military discharge or conviction for a felony or domestic violence.

Environmental Conservation Officers

  • ECOs enforce environmental conservation laws, which include laws related to the state's fish and wildlife. They are considered police officers and are required to carry firearms. An applicant with a bachelor’s degree must also complete 18 hours of training in natural resource conservation, environmental science, environmental studies or a similar environmental program, natural science, physical science or criminal justice. Applicants with an associate degree must also complete the additional 18 hours of course work and must have: one year of experience in freshwater, marine or wildlife science, forestry, environmental engineering or environmental technology; one year of experience as a police officer or certified federal law enforcement officer, or two years military service with an honorable discharge. Candidates must also be able to swim.

The Hiring Process

  • To become a police officer in New York, you must take a civil service examination. In addition you must supply documentation of your education or military service, be fingerprinted and undergo interviews and physical testing. NYPD, for example, requires written psychological testing and an oral psychological interview. The organization to which you apply will also conduct criminal background checks. Physical testing typically includes the ability to run a specified distance within a time limit, perform sit-ups, pull-ups and push-ups. The entire process may take several months. For example, in Rochester, it can take two to five months just to get the results of the examination. Most police departments maintain websites that provide details of the application, interview, testing and hiring process.

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