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In a couple of weeks they’ll be sweeping the streets of New York City, picking up drug dealers, hookers and johns. Until then, Police Academy recruits are getting a crash course in what the job’s really about: thankless toil–and cleaning up a different kind of john.

Cops-in-training aren’t supposed to be cleaning the cans–according to NYPD spokesperson Sgt. Brian Burke, that’s a job reserved for the Academy’s full-time janitorial staff. But when Academy brass got wind of a possible VIP visit, they apparently added potty training to the Academy’s world-famous seven-month training curriculum.

Commissioner Bernard Kerik was coming, and the place needed cleaning up, but quick. Kerik, the former head of Corrections and Howard Safir’s replacement, has already earned a reputation as a bit of clean freak. He visited the 34th Precinct during his first week in office and immediately ordered a spiccing and a spanning for the place–and for all other precinct houses, and for officers’ uniforms to boot.

So while some of the recruits were out on the streets picking up barricades after the U.N. world peace summit, about 60 of their colleagues were reportedly swabbing out the loos.

“They brought in a power washer with a generator and 15 gallons of bleach and had a bunch of recruits clean out the bathroom,” groused one recruit. “They had us cleaning out the locker rooms, the bathrooms, all of which is totally out of our job description.” The NYPD declined to confirm or deny the whether the cleaning ever happened.

The police officers’ union reported no complaints–but that doesn’t mean it didn’t happen, said PBA spokesman Joseph Mancini. “If it happened, it would be something that we would have a problem with,” he said. “The union’s position would be that cleaning bathrooms would not be an appropriate duty.”

But if the Academy’s esprit de corps smells more like eau de commode, there’s another reason: For one thing, a first-year cop makes $31,305 a year, which works out to about $350 a week after taxes and union dues. That’s one reason the city’s had a hard time getting new recruits, even after pushing back the deadline for new applications.

With morale already in the toilet, it didn’t help that Kerik never showed. “It was totally because he was supposed to visit,” fumed our Officer Friendly, “and then, after they made us do all that, he didn’t even visit!”

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