The New York Police Department includes the ranks of both sergeant and detective on its organizational chart. However, you can't be both at the same time, because the NYPD keeps the sergeant and detective ranks distinctive. Women serve in both roles in the NYPD. Isabella Goodwin was the first woman to achieve the rank of detective or sergeant in the NYPD when she was promoted to first grade detective in 1912.
Of the active-duty cops in the NYPD, the lowest ranking are the police officers, who account for more than 23,000 NYPD cops as of 2013, or roughly two-thirds of the force. Detective is the next rank in the command structure, and sergeant lies just above detective. In ascending order, the other ranks include lieutenant, captain, deputy inspector, inspector, deputy chief, chiefs, chief of department, deputy commissioner, first deputy commissioner and commissioner.
The NYPD has more than 5,000 detectives in its employment as of 2013. Approximately 600 detectives are women. Detectives range from third grade to first grade in ranking. First grade represents the highest-level detective, while third grade represents the lowest level of the rank. The highest possible base annual salary for a third-grade detective in the department is $87,278 as of 2013. Officers do not take an exam to gain a promotion to detective. You earn the rank strictly on merit and your performance in the field.
There are approximately 4,500 NYPD sergeants as of 2013, and about 750 of them are women. Sergeants can earn a maximum base salary of $98,073 as of 2013. NYPD cops must have worked in the department for a minimum of three years to take the sergeant's exam. They also must have accumulated at least 64 college credits. The exam, which is multiple choice, tests prospective sergeants on technical knowledge and departmental policies. It also tests skills such as written communication, analysis, sensitivity and judgment.
NYPD detectives spend their time investigating complaints and crimes. The specific nature of their cases depends on the unit where they are assigned. For instance, a homicide detective tackles murder investigations, while a narcotics detective pursues investigations of drug offenses. Sergeants serve in a more supervisory role. They manage a unit of officers and oversee investigations and other operations. Sergeants can also lead detective units. Sgt. Helen Rinaldi became the first woman to serve as commanding officer of an NYPD detective squad in 1988.
Tom Gresham is a freelance writer and public relations specialist who has been writing professionally since 1999. His articles have appeared in "The Washington Post," "Virginia Magazine," "Vermont Magazine," "Adirondack Life" and the "Southern Arts Journal," among other publications. He graduated from the University of Virginia.