The NYPD has again lowered its requirement for police recruits, scrapping a timed, 1.5-mile run in the police academy, the department’s head of training told The Post.
The controversial move — which training Chief Juanita Holmes said will help more women applicants make the cut — sparked an intra-agency battle between Holmes and NYPD Commissioner Keechant Sewell that Mayor Eric Adams had to settle.
The internal squabble boiled over just months after The Post reported in July that the NYPD dramatically relaxed the police fitness test amid a record wave of retirements. The department has also had trouble recruiting new cops, many of whom can find better paying jobs in Long Island or elsewhere in the country.
Without the timed run, the only physical fitness criteria for NYPD hopefuls is the Job Standard Test, a multi-step course that needs to be completed in 4-minutes and 28-seconds.
But Holmes insisted the timed run — which needed to be completed by men and women in 14-minutes and 21-seconds — isn’t necessary to be a cop.
“No cop on patrol runs a mile and a half,” she said. “No one’s chasing anyone a mile and a half. Not to mention every day in the gym you’re doing a mile and a half [as part of training.]”
The requirement was also holding back otherwise-qualified candidates — especially women, who now make up about a fifth of the force, she said.
But Sewell and now-retired Chief Kenneth Corey were dead-set against it, prompting a conference call with Adams on Feb. 21, police sources said.
“They said, ‘We’re going to keep it in,” she recalled.
Although Holmes refused to address the call, she acknowledged that she won the mayor’s approval in the end, saying: “We no longer have that run in place.”
Sewell, meanwhile, didn’t want to seem like she was lowering the entry standards, sources said.
“The [police commissioner] is in favor of the run,” a high-ranking police source said. “She didn’t agree with this.”
A City Hall spokesman refused to comment about Adams’ conference call with the police brass.
“We don’t discuss private conversations,” he said. “The NYPD would be best to discuss training requirements.”
But the NYPD was equally opaque, ignoring specific questions about the run requirement but saying that the state accepted the city’s Job Standard Test as meeting the training standards.
“To date, the NYPD is in compliance with the physical fitness standards set by the [state’s Municipal Police Training Council],” the NYPD said. “The requirements to complete the daily physical training and tactics of our Police Academy, including running nearly every day, remains unchanged.”
Still, rank-and-file cops heckled the decision to scrap the run, which one veteran Brooklyn officer called “embarrassing” because most recruits are in their early 20s.
“You can probably just about walk it,” the officer said. “I mean, a mile-and-a-half in 14 minutes? It’s a brisk walk … Listen, the standards have been lowered for years. Shame on them for not trying to push people.”
One Manhattan cop asked if the department was going to bring back people who failed the run and flunked out of the academy.
“Cops are already out of shape,” the officer said. “What’s going to be coming in here now?
Eugene O’Donnell, a professor at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice who is also a former NYPD cop and Brooklyn and Queens prosecutor, blamed the changes on the “defund the police” movement.
“They’re the ones that did this, and they’re the ones who are going to have to live with the consequences of a department where the utterly unfit are all that’s left in the pool,” O’Donnell told The Post.
“This is not being driven by some considered research,” O’Donnell continued. “This is being driven by sheer desperation because you need somebody … There’s nothing but disadvantages to public safety from this decision.”
As of 2021, the NYPD must meet training standards set by the NYS Department of Criminal Justice Services’ Municipal Police Training Council, officials said.
The department submitted the long run and the standard test each for state approval. But state officials rejected the run and told the NYPD it could lead to a class-action lawsuit, Holmes said.
The JST — a timed course developed in 2002 — is now the sole physical fitness hurdle for police hopefuls.
A rather simple test, it demands recruits continuously sprint 50 feet, scale a wall, climb the stairs, demonstrate they can restrain someone, run in pursuit, drag a 176-pound mannequin 35 feet and trigger pull an unloaded gun several times.
If wannabe-cops can do that — and pass the other necessary requirements, such as a background check and drug test — they’re in.
The New York State Police, on the other hand, have kept the distance run, according to their website. And they’ve staggered the times so men and women meet different goals.
For instance, a man between the ages of 20 – 29 must run a mile-and-a-half in just under 11 minutes to reach the 70 percentile, the site said. A woman in the same age range must finish in 12:53 to reach the same benchmark.
The decision to further relax the NYPD fitness standards comes after officials replaced a fake 6-foot wall inside the Police Academy gym with a chain-link fence that’s easier to climb, according to official recruiting videos posted online.
That change followed cellphone video showing of a series of out-of-shape, wannabe cops laughably trying — and failing — to scale the barrier.
City Councilman Robert Holden also opposed ditching the run, and said he was worried the city was making it too easy to become a cop.
“I don’t get it,” Holden said “I think there’s more women that are fit than men! I’ve seen cops that are not fit and they can’t run more than one block — they are at a distinct disadvantage if they’re not fit.”
Holden, a member of the council’s public safety committee, suggested the NYPD just change the time of the run.
“If women can’t do it in 14 minutes, make it 15,” he said. “You can change it. You’re gonna’ get the B-team if you start lowering standards.”
Holmes said the run was arbitrarily added to the NYPD requirements in 2007.
The time deadline was also the same for men and women, which differs drastically from the requirements of agencies from the State Police to the US Marine Corps.
Still, the decision had immediate effects. On Monday, the NYPD graduated 42 cops who weren’t fast enough to pass the run test, Holmes said.
“There were 42 cops awaiting this decision,” Holmes said. “It was so ridiculous. I’m glad the mayor saw it as a barrier as well.”
Additional reporting by Craig McCarthy