NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The NYPD is celebrating its efforts to recruit more diverse officers.

The department says its efforts have come in response to the feedback it has received in communities, CBS2’s Aundrea Cline-Thomas reported Tuesday.

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With change as the centerpiece of its slogan, the NYPD has outlined an aggressive strategy to recruit officers, especially those of color. In all, more than 14,500 applicants have answered the call to take the police exam.

A first step, top brass said, reflects what they’re hearing in communities.

“It’s not fewer police but more police … But they also emphasize that they want better policing. They want police who see them,” NYPD Deputy Commissioner Benjamin Tucker said.

PROTESTS AND POLICE REFORMS

In its first recruitment campaign since 2019, up to 70% of applicants identify with an under-represented group. That’s despite the impact COVID-19 has had on recruitment efforts and widespread protests last summer, increasing tensions and calling for more police accountability in the wake of the murder of George Floyd.

“In order for us to protect the city, we’ve got to build that trust back. That’s what we want these new recruits to take ownership of,” NYPD Chief of Department Rodney Harrison said.

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The department is aiming to change from the inside out, but first applicants have to pass the test next month — a step in a journey that lasts more than a year.

“This is the beginning. There’s a lot of work to do. There a lot of work to continue to make sure that what starts as applying for a test turns into people walking around the streets of New York City keeping New Yorkers safe,” Police Commissioner Dermot Shea said.

In addition to the test, there are background checks and, of course, the Police Academy. CBS2 was told about 1 in 9 initial applicants ends up being sworn in.

The starting salary for an NYPD officer is $42,500 and the average salary tops $100,000 after five years.

Aundrea Cline-Thomas