NYPD seek civilians for career opportunities

From left, school safety officer Rudolph Douglas and recruiment officer Meloni Stephens.
Community News Group / Alexandra Simon

The city’s finest needs you.

The New York Police Department (NYPD) is looking for everyday people to join the force and serve the city. With a lot of outreach, the department recruiters are hoping to spotlight the opportunities and benefits available for civilians looking to find work in the field, said a recruitment lieutenant.

“We are trying to get in touch with the grassroots community, so we want to change our focus and get more involved with our communities to get more boots on the ground,” said Lieutenant Eric Sandseth.

The opportunities available are police administrative aides, 911 operators, school safety agents, and traffic enforcement officers. Many people are unaware that these opportunities are open for civilians, and with a lot of immigrants in the city — they too can also apply to work in these fields. The Caribbean community in particular, undocumented or not, should seek out these offers, according to Sandseth.

He said that within a few years of performing these jobs, qualified members who meet specific criteria can eventually work towards becoming police officers, in which they will get higher priority.

Everyday, recruitment officers are on the move to share information about these jobs, and many are of Caribbean background. Officer Meloni Stephens, started out as a traffic agent and is now a recruitment officer. Before immigrating to the states from Jamaica, she knew she wanted to be an officer one day.

“Working with the police force is something that I always wanted to do,” she said. “Even when I was in Jamaica and I remember coming home from school and walking past the police station and see well put-together policewomen and I knew I wanted to be just like that.”

As a green-card holder, Stephens sought out that chance and applied to become a traffic agent and would eventually apply for citizenship, before eventually taking the exam to become an officer. To apply for any of the civilian opportunities, the only requirement is to be English-speaking.

In her job as a traffic enforcement agent, she said she enjoyed interacting with people and said her presence in these communities, eased the tensions for many residents.

“Being out there and patrolling I would meet someone from Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana, or any island, and they feel comfortable talking to me,” said Stephens. “They see someone with a background similar to them, and so I’m approachable.”

And that familiarity is important for community engagement. School Safety Agent Rudolph Douglas has worked the field for 22 years. He said that being of Panamanian background and patrolling schools in East Flatbush not only made his job easier, but gave students a sense of reassurance.

“I’m an immigrant, black, Spanish-speaking and Caribbean as well, so in talking and dealing with students, I understand what they want and what they need and I could stay on top of them and keep in touch with them,” said Douglas.

Both Douglas and Stephens do recruitment efforts citywide in libraries, schools, and city agencies. They both said that it was important that people of all backgrounds and ethnic groups are represented in the force.

Applications are being accepted until Dec. 30.

Reach reporter Alexandra Simon at (718) 260–8310 or e-mail her at asimo[email protected]local.com.

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