Assistant Chief Kim Royster (161008)
Credit: Bill Moore photo

Assistant Chief Kim Royster has officially assumed her new position in the NYPD and will now be tasked with bringing more diversity to the department.

A ceremony was held last Monday for her promotion and she is now the highest ranking uniform black female in the Department. Royster is being transferred to the Personnel Division, where she will be commanding officer of the Candidate Assessment Division in charge of bringing new officers into the NYPD.

In an interview with the AmNews, Royster, 52, said she plans to increase diversity in the department by reaching out to certain communities. The NYPD has been under scrutiny for its low number of Blacks and Latinos. The latest class to graduate from the police academy was one of the most diverse ever.

“The promotion itself is an honor,” she said. “To be selected to head up something that’s going to be the model of policing in the 21st century makes me feel honored the commissioner chose me to do this. Policing is a noble profession, and I am proud to serve.”

Royster added that a national conversation about overall diversity is taking place in America’s police departments. Women and people of color are underrepresented, with African-American males being a particular focus.

“Some of the things we are doing is going out to neighborhoods that have these diverse communities,” she said. “We want to be approachable and want to engage people.”

In an effort to make the process of being a police officer better, Royster said the department is focusing on three mechanisms: quality, diversity and efficiency.

A major change is creating a one-stop shop for prospective recruits to get into the department. Currently, a candidate has to go to four different places to get everything done. The department is in the process of building a facility on 20th Street in Manhattan that will serve as a one-stop shop for everything.

“Some people take the test and it’s years until they get hired,” Royster said. “This needs to be streamlined. We don’t want to lose viable candidates because the process is not happening fast enough. The big picture is recruiting the best candidates who will strengthen the department and diversify the workforce.”

A 30-year veteran of the NYPD, Royster joined the department in 1985 as a police administrative aide. Two years later, she was sworn in as an officer. She moved up the ranks, working in Manhattan and Brooklyn. She holds a bachelor’s degree in organizational management from St. Joseph’s College and is a 2011 graduate of Columbia University’s Police Management Institute.

The cornerstone of Royster’s career has been to improve police-community relations. She was a key creator of the city’s gun buyback program, which has taken more than 8,000 guns off the streets since 2008. Her promotion makes her the highest ranking Black woman ever in the department. Royster is also the third-highest ranking officer in the department.

“This promotion is great, but it’s not about me,” she said. “It’s all those women who came before me. I am the highest ranking African-American woman in the NYPD, but I should not be the last.”