The number of people interested in taking the NYPD exam is cratering, likely hitting a new low as the city struggles to fill the positions left vacant by senior officers leaving in droves, The Post has learned. 

So far this year, the NYPD has given the Police Officer Exam twice — once in March and again on Thursday.

The NYPD expected about 3,000 test takers for the winter exam – but only about 1,300 signed up.

The number of potential cops who took the Thursday test wasn’t immediately available, but insiders said it was low again — despite extending the registration period by a month, waiving the $40 fee and a contract that includes pay raises.

“The NYPD’s best recruiting tool has always been word of mouth,” Police Benevolent Association President Patrick Hendry told The Post. “But right now the word is, ‘Stay away.’”

The NYPD has given between one and three exams per year over the past several years.

Back in 2017, 18,463 people took two exams.

PBA President Patrick Hendry said the word about the NYPD today is
PBA President Patrick Hendry said the word about the NYPD today is “stay away.”
J.C. Rice

In 2019, 14127 cops sat for just one exam. In 2022, the NYPD had only 6,489 test takers for three exams — a stunning 65 percent drop from 2017, police sources said. 

In stark contrast, no exam was given between 2015 and 2016 because the NYPD had “too many applicants,” a police source said, adding that the department had a list of 40,000 certified candidates. 

The newest test was expected to draw more interest after the NYPD extended the registration period by a month, waived the $40 fee, and agreed on a contract that includes pay raises for new cops.

NYPD recruitment poster.
Recruitment posters urge people to join the NYPD.
Instagram @nypdrecruit

“We thought it would be better after the contract, but it’s not,” a law enforcement source said.

One problem is cops aren’t encouraging family members to join the NYPD because they don’t want them “putting their livelihood or safety at risk to enforce laws that the City Council and Albany don’t want enforced,” Hendry said.

He was referring to bail reform laws passed in Albany that make it more difficult to keep criminals in custody and to City Council bills that have made it harder to make arrests.

“They don’t want them constantly hyper-scrutinized and second-guessed,” he said. “If the NYPD wants to fix its recruitment problem, it needs to make this a job that cops can recommend.”

NYPD recruitment poster.
Recruitment posters notified cops that there’s no longer a $40 fee to take the exam.
Instagram @nypdrecruit

The low recruitment numbers come as experienced members of the NYPD have been retiring in record numbers.

Even some cops who have been on the job for years don’t want their loved ones to join. 

“Patrol treats people like s—,” said a police officer with more than two decades on the job. “I told my son to do something else.”

A cop with nearly 30 years with the NYPD said: “The job is never happy.”

NYPD academy.
NYC is struggling to fill the positions left vacant by senior officers leaving in droves, The Post has learned.
Paul Martinka
Training bureau in Queens.
Candidates become police officers after they are trained at the Police Academy at 30-30 28th Avenue in Queens.
Paul Martinka

“It’s just hammer, hammer, hammer,” he said.

That’s why he would advise a young man or woman to look elsewhere if they are interested in working for the city.

“I would say try Sanitation or the Fire Department,” he said. “You can never go wrong with those jobs.”

Officers with police dogs.
Two female NYPD officers from the Canine Team stand with their dogs in a recruitment poster.
Instagram @nypdrecruit

Chuck Wexler, executive director of the Police Executive Research Forum in Washington, D.C., said the police hiring problem extends nationwide, driven in part by events like the police killing of George Floyd in 2020.

“Traditionally, in policing, you would have the legacy factor, meaning cops’ kids and family members would go on to be police officers,” Wexler said. “Today, if you walk into a room in most places in the country, and you say to cops, how many of you would like to see your children or your brothers be cops? Very few raise their hands.”