Climbing the Ranks

Guillermo Rincon takes advantage of Excelsior’s credit acceptance policy to advance in the New York Police Department

To move up in rank in the New York Police Department, you need to not only pass a rigorous test, but also hold a certain level of degree. Guillermo Rincon, of Farmingville, New York, held two jobs—a sales associate at Staples and an asset protection manager at BJ’s Wholesale Club—before deciding to join the Department and attended Baruch College for a short time. With Excelsior’s generous credit acceptance policy, Rincon was able to transfer credit from his previous college experience to earn the degree he needed to become a sergeant. Excelsior’s acceptance of prior learning and police training have also allowed him to apply for the next rank and now he’s on a list to become a lieutenant.

Rincon began attending Baruch College in New York City just after graduating high school, but unfortunately his class schedule did not line up with his work schedule at Staples. He decided to leave that job and started working at BJ’s Wholesale Club while still attending school but soon found the work to be more rewarding than school. After two years of attending Baruch, Rincon became a full-time asset protection manager for BJ’s, which he says was similar to a security position.

While in that position, Rincon made several friends in law enforcement who convinced him to take the entrance exam into the New York Police Department. He was hired in January 2007 and Rincon’s father was behind his decision to take the job. Rincon’s father was ill at the time Rincon was going through the entrance process, but his support encouraged Rincon. “One of the last conversations that I had with him before he passed away was that I was going to be a police officer. He only said he was happy, he was proud, you know, and it was something that kind of motivated me,” Rincon says.

Rincon was an officer for five years before he took a promotional exam to become a sergeant. Part of the requirements was at least 64 college-level credits. Rincon had 67 credits from his time at Baruch College and was able to transfer those credits over to Excelsior. In doing so, he was able to make the rank of sergeant with the NYPD.

When he sought to become a lieutenant, Rincon needed 38 more credits for the 96 required for that position. He turned to Excelsior and its OneTranscript service, for non-degree-seeking students who want to consolidate college-level credits onto a single master transcript. This was a perfect choice for Rincon and is often a popular choice for other police officers desiring advancement. Passing the promotional exam and obtaining his OneTranscript allowed Rincon to become a lieutenant in 2017. He is now on the wait list to be hired. Excelsior accepted his college experience and his experience from the police academy which made earning credit easy, he says.

In his current role as a sergeant, Rincon’s main job is to keep the chief of patrol apprised of what is happening in the 77 precincts around New York City. Rincon has access to various department databases and supervises several officers. Oftentimes, he reports not only the criminal activities, but also the accomplishments of the officers, like taking a gun off the street or rescuing someone with CPR. “It could be anything. My job is to try to get first-hand information and make sure that he’s [chief of patrol] aware of it to the best of my ability,” Rincon says.

Rincon has his career plan mapped out and continues to make steps toward his goals. He is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in liberal arts with Excelsior so that he has the educational requirements to make the rank of captain. Taking online courses has worked out well for him because it fits right in with his schedule. “The two biggest things for me was the ability to do it at my own pace and that the courses were eight weeks long,” he says. It is an added benefit to be able to access courses on his mobile phone.

He is looking forward to promotion to lieutenant, as it is a good position that affords a lot of flexibility and variety. He just added a seven-month-old to his large family of four kids, ages 15, 13, 10, and 8, and he is thankful he’s been able to move up in ranks and provide for his family. “Excelsior has granted me the opportunity to finish something that I thought I wasn’t going to be able to…And I’m setting a good example for my kids,” he says. “That’s really what it boils down to.”