View Full Version : Police Expertise: The Captain's Retiring

12-27-2011, 09:28 AM

I'm working on a series set in NYPD Homicide and the Captain of the department is setting to retire. What I'd like to know is:

- How does a Captain retire from his position; does he have to provide a certain amount of notice, or formal paperwork beyond a notice to the Police Chief?

- How would a replacement Captain be found? Would a new one be hired, or promoted from another department or precinct?

- How would the squads / divisions be notified of the changes, if at all?

- Would the new Captain have the authority to restructure existing divisions / squads when in place?

Many thanks for the assistance with these questions!


Sea Witch
12-27-2011, 04:59 PM
I can help (a little) with one of the questions.

All ranks up to and including Captain require passing a civil service exam that is administered every 2 years. There was an article in the NY Post a couple of years ago noting that a lot of officers don't want to be Captain (and won't take the exam) because under certain circumstances they can make more money including overtime as a Lieutenant. A new Captain would most likely come from a different division. Above Captain they are appointed from the top and discretionary.

There are always internal postings for job openings which anyone eligible can apply for, but there is likely (probably) a political component as to who gets the plum jobs. Who got what promotion would be heard by gossip long before any official circular from HR went around.

12-28-2011, 01:56 AM
Since your questions are NYPD specific, I can only give you generic answers.

Retirement eligibility is a matter of age and time of service (e.g., 50 and 20 years of service). Longer service will enhance the pension annuity amount on a specific escalating scale. Paperwork (retirement forms) are required - after all, it is a bureaucracy; and if it's not on paper, it didn't happen.

The vacancy may be filled by a competitive promotion process or a lateral transfer (a captain from another precinct/division is transferred into the slot). That, of course, may precipitate another promotion process to fill the gap he/she left; it'll depend upon the needs of the department at the time.

Notifications (electronic and hard copy) would be department-wide upon official sanction. However, the internal grapevine would buzz with the news well in advance.

A new squad/division commander has some discretion (assignments, scheduling, etc.), but wholesale restructuring is generally not within that purview.

I hope you find this helpful. Maybe you can get a NYPD veteran to chime in with more specific details. Best of Luck!

12-28-2011, 03:41 AM
Sea Witch and Ironmikezero,

Firstly, I wasn't expecting such a prompt response, thank you both very much! I'm working on the story as we speak and planning on having it finished by the January, so the quick information is great.

Ironmike, do you have any knowledge on wether it would be acceptible for the retiring Captain to announce his planned retirement to his squad/department after the paperwork had been approved? More specifically mentioning it to certain officers at a department holiday shindig?

To clarify a question: I'm not looking to restructure the whole department completely, but I do want to get rid of a specific detective who is a chaotic force within the squad. So, I was hoping with the installation of the new captain, he would examine this particular team - which has caught the public eye - and it would give me an opportunity to fire or demote this detective.

Any further insights?

Thanks again!

12-28-2011, 10:18 AM
The retiring captain would tell his first line supervisors (lieutenants and sergeants) before announcing the news to the entire squad. The truth is that the rumor mill would have likely beaten him to the punch, to be candid. The lieutenants then would plan (or delegate the planning) the retirement party (usually held on or immediately after close of shift on his last day).

Firing or demoting a detective has to be for cause. That's a personnel action that must adhere to established protocols and procedures. It gets very convoluted and protracted; there'd be union involvement as well. Don't go there if you can avoid it.

You'd be better off working out a temporary assignment for this "problem detective" like having him detailed (indefinitely) to an ad hoc task force under some other chain of command.