How Long Does It Take To Become A Detective?
Detectives or criminal investigators investigate felonies (and sometimes misdemeanors) such as homicides, burglary, identity theft, and fraud. They begin their careers as police officers and by the requirement of the department, they must serve as a police officer for a particular amount of years before they can be promoted to the rank of detective. Some departments require only two years of service while others require 5 years of service, but many will only require their officers to serve 3 years before they can receive a promotion. During this time, officers will acquire field experience and knowledge of the law that’s essential for the role of a detective.
Attention to detail is a very important quality for a detective to have. Individuals will develop these skills while on the job, paying close attention to crime scenes and accidents and learning how to capture details in reports. Some departments will also require that their candidates possess a degree in law enforcement or criminal justice as a requirement for promotion to the rank of detective.
Police departments are organized into several units or divisions, with each division specializing in one aspect of law enforcement. Some police departments may even choose to organize their criminal investigations division by separating it into two main units:
- Crimes against Persons
- Crimes against Property
Each division will have its own team of detectives, and the daily activities of those detectives will depend on the division they serve. Some examples of divisions you might find in a police department are the Criminal Investigations Division, the Narcotics and Special Investigations Division, the Crime Scene Investigations Division, and the Special Victims Division.
What Do Detectives Do?
Detectives spend most of their time gathering facts and evidence for criminal cases they have been assigned. They gather evidence through informants, by interviewing witnesses, and by observing, monitoring, and recording the activities of known or suspected criminals. In performing their duties, it is absolutely necessary that they gain knowledge of suspects and the circumstances surrounding a crime before singling out a perpetrator. Once motives, alibis, past relationships, and the evidence has been determined and analyzed, a detective will interrogate a suspect with the aim of determining his guilt or innocence.
In cases where the evidence suggests but does not definitively say that a person is guilty of a crime, the interrogation process is used as a means of obtaining a confession. To accomplish this, detectives must at times psychoanalyze their suspects. If their investigation leads to an arrest, which they themselves may perform, then detectives must testify in the trial of their suspect(s). In their capacity as an expert witness, they will explain to the court what the evidence means, what led to the arrest, and what they believe happened at the time the crime was committed. Besides gathering evidence, interrogating suspects, and testifying in court, detectives may even participate in raids.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average detective earned a yearly income of $60,270. The top ten percent earned more than $100,560 and the lowest ten percent earned less than $34,170. Most agencies provide officers with an allowance for uniform along with other benefits and incentives such as paid tuition for those pursuing a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice. Detectives are paid overtime and are required to work shifts to ensure that the public is protected at all times. The employment rate of detectives is expected to grow by 4% by 2024. However, levels of employment vary from year to year as employment opportunity is determined by the level of government spending