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NYPD promotes firs Black deputy chief Kim Royster

Cyril Josh Barker | 11/14/2013, 4:57 p.m.
Kim Royster, Chief and Chief Gerald Nelson Lem Peterkin photos

History was made in the NYPD as Kim Royster was promoted to deputy chief, making her the third African-American woman to achieve the rank in the 168-year history of the department.

Royster brings to this position 27 years of service with the NYPD, which she started in the clerical position of police administrative aide.

Serving as the first African-American commanding officer of the Office of the Deputy Commissioner for Public Information, Royster helps to manage the enormous amount of inquiries from the media and the public on a 24-hour basis.

“When I was told I was being promoted, I was speechless,” she said in an interview with the AmNews. “It’s such an honor to be promoted to deputy chief in one of the largest police agencies. Getting promoted was one of the proudest days of my life.”

Sworn in as a police officer in July 1987, Royster was promoted to detective in March 1992, sergeant in October 1997, sergeant special assignment in December 2001, lieutenant in April 2002, captain in August 2006, deputy inspector in August 2009 and inspector in March 2012.

She has served in the Police Academy, the 5th and 13th Precincts, the 7th Precinct Detective Squad, Patrol Borough Manhattan South, the Office of Management Analysis and Planning, the Office of the Deputy Commissioner of Public Information, Detective Borough Manhattan, Detective Borough Brooklyn, the Intelligence Division, the Internal Affairs Bureau, the Criminal Justice Bureau and the Public Information Division.

Royster also commanded the Manhattan South Investigations Unit and served as the executive officer of the 5th Precinct in Chinatown. She is also best known as a singer for the NYPD, often performing the national anthem at events. She has sung for Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush and has sung on the primetime drama “NYPD Blue.”

“I’ve always liked people and wanted to be in the midst of what is going on. When I came to New York, I wanted to be a performer. You never know what your skill set is and where you are going to be placed. I’m lucky enough to be a police officer and sing,” she said.

At the forefront of the response to numerous major events, including those surrounding the terrorist attacks of 9/11 and of Hurricane Sandy, she helped spotlight the heroic work of members of the department working in the Public Information Office.

“With every promotion, you always work harder,” Royster said. “One of the things about my position is that it’s a 24/7 job. We react to things that may need crisis management. I look forward to working with my team and making sure we can do the best we can to get info with the public.”

Royster said that with her new rank, she hopes to be able to reach out to youth and be an example of what hard work and dedication can do.

“I have a target audience, and that’s the youth. I want them to know that hard work will be recognized and you can do whatever you want,” she said. “We all get to a dark place, but you have to be able to move out of that dark place. The youth are important because they are the ones who are going to be in these positions.”