When she started with the NYPD, Kim Royster was essentially a civilian clerical worker, an administrative aide, before becoming a police officer in 1987.

Monday, some 28 years after donning a uniform, Royster continued her career odyssey with a promotion to the rank of assistant chief. The promotion gives Royster the distinction of being the highest ranking African-American woman in NYPD history.

The impact of the promotion hadn't hit home Monday as Royster, 52, met with reporters minutes after receiving her two-star promotion.

"When it is going to sink [in] is when someone out there sees they can make a change, they can actually make a change through all the hard work and dedication," Royster said. "I am saying this to all the young ladies out there who have been discouraged, who have had challenges. Make this your opportunity, you can do this, just keep going forward."

Royster's swearing-in as head of the police candidate assessment unit came during a departmentwide promotion ceremony at police headquarters in Manhattan, where several other high-level moves were made.

Among those promoted were Edward Mullane, 55, who grew up in Bellmore and was made deputy chief. Mullane works in the operations division under the command of the office of the chief of department, an NYPD spokesman said.

Royster takes over her new job and is tasked with improving and simplifying the candidate application and selection process of the NYPD at a time when it is seeking to diversify the force, particularly among black men, who represent only about 15 percent of the department.

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She stressed that the push for diversity didn't mean the NYPD was going to cut back on standards.

"What we are looking to do is get the best candidate possible," Royster said. "We want quality, we want diversity and we want efficiency. . . . We want the best candidate we can get and education is very important here."