The NYPD Sergeant represents the first line of leadership in the world’s largest municipal police department. For more than 150 years the three inverted Vs on their sleeves – commonly referred to as stripes or chevrons – indicate the Sergeant’s integral role in frontline leadership as it relates to public safety.
There is no shortage of credos by which NYPD Sergeants should live and work, but most important of all is to lead by example, be consistent and fair, and let the Officers who depend on you for guidance know that you are as available to them as they are accountable to you.
NYPD Sergeants supervise Police Officers and Detectives in a wide array of patrol, investigatory and specialized duties. In doing so, they also serve on the front lines in promoting public safety and enforcing laws.
Their most visible public presence is as the Patrol Supervisor, which in other jurisdictions might be called the Tour Commander or the Watch Commander. In this role they will organize daily assignments, prepare and present roll call, and inspect personnel and equipment for adherence to departmental standards. They also supervise Patrol Officers, review various reports, and prepare and investigate personnel complaints.
Additional duties for police sergeants may include:
NYPD Sergeants begin their law enforcement careers as Police Officers. In order to be promoted to Sergeant, Officers must have 5 years of field experience and possess a bachelor’s degree. They must also have been the recipient of positive performance evaluations, have leadership ability and strong communication and multi-tasking skills.
In order to be promoted to the civil service rank of Sergeant, an NYPD member must have at least 5 years of service. Once promoted, they are required to complete a challenging 6-week Basic Leadership Course (BLC). Like the Officers they will be supervising, they will be immersed in the unpredictability of police work on a daily basis.
Police Officers and Detectives are regularly called upon to make daunting and dangerous decisions, most often with no warning whatsoever. They need solid frontline leadership to provide them with inspiration, motivation and confidence.
More than anything else, an effective NYPD Sergeant must lead by example and always provide timely and topical follow-up after giving an order. They must utilize their own past observations of weak and strong leadership to make them as well-rounded as possible. And because they provide leadership in critical crisis situations, the men and women who they supervise need to know that they would not order them to do anything they would not do themselves.