NYC DOC postpones small academy class days before start of training
The DOC has eliminated the college requirement and slashed the length of training, but has had continuing trouble luring new officers
By Graham Rayman
New York Daily News
NEW YORK — Correction Commissioner Lynelle Maginley-Liddie has abruptly postponed the latest Correction Academy class just as it was poised to start training on Feb. 15 because it only had roughly 40 recruits, the Daily News has learned.
Sources familiar with the move said space was already arranged at the Police Academy for the new class, but the small number of recruits led to the delay.
Correction spokesman Frank Dwyer confirmed the class was postponed but wouldn’t reveal the number of initial recruits. “It was pushed back a few weeks to process more candidates,” he said.
“Class is set for March. When the dates are set, we will let you know.”
The Correction Department has invested millions in its recruiting campaigns in recent years, eliminated the college requirement and slashed the length of training, but has had continuing trouble luring new officers.
The department’s image has been buffeted by relentless outside criticism from advocates, bad press and unflattering oversight reports from the federal monitor appointed to track violence and uses of force in the jails.
A class that completed training in May 2023 had just 81 recruits, The News previously reported.
The 2022 class had 230 members after there were no classes in 2020 and 2021 because of the pandemic. The class of 2019 had 382 recruits.
Classes from 2015 through 2018 each had more than 1,000 members.
The move is a first public setback for Maginley-Liddie, who was appointed Dec. 8 to replace Louis Molina after he moved into an undefined role at City Hall under Deputy Mayor for Public Safety Philip Banks.
“The new commissioner has not made recruitment a priority and human resources dropped the ball in processing candidates,” said a source with knowledge of the move.
The department recently launched a new recruiting drive with the slogan, “Join. Discover. Wanna Serve with a purpose? Take the test.”
The campaign trumpets that officers earn an average of $130,000 — a total that appears to include overtime. The base salary for Correction officers is $92,073 after five years.
The Correction Department has had to rely heavily on overtime over the past several years in part because of staff shortages that left posts unfilled and forced officers to work double- and triple- tours.
The recruiting campaign is tied to the current civil service testing period that started in December and was extended through Wednesday in advance of the March exam, the department said.
The campaign literature comes with a promotional booklet that plays an electronic jingle of the slogan when opened.
“(The jingle) was part of creative development that involved focus groups and market research for best practices,” Dwyer said, adding the tune costs $6,000 to create out of $20,000 for the booklet and larger promotional ads.
A woman who received the promotional package quipped on social media, “This is what our tax dollars are going to.”
A prior campaign in May 2023 described the position as the “toughest, most rewarding career in law enforcement.”
Dwyer said the total advertising cost for the most recent effort was $750,000.
The department spent $400,000 on recruiting ad campaigns through the end of fiscal 2023 and another $800,000 in the fall.
The money went for a wide range of social media, print, radio, TV, and outdoor ad purchases, along with posters and billboards in the subways, on buses, LINKNYC screens, and ferries.
The campaign also included a Jan. 25 interview with a correction officer that aired on WBLS.
“Like Officer Gomez, you can also help New Yorkers as a correctional professional while earning a living that enables you to provide for yourself and your family,” the department posted on Instagram.
“Take the first step to work in this rewarding law enforcement career today.”
A spokesman for the Correction Officers union didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
It was unclear whether the postponement had anything to do with the recent budget cuts experienced throughout city agencies.
In November, the Adams administration said it was necessary to cut up to five Police Academy classes.
On Jan. 10 , Mayor Adams restored the NYPD class expected to begin training in April.