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How to Become a Criminal Investigator in Colorado

According to the Colorado Bureau of Investigation’s Uniform Crime Reporting Program, law enforcement agencies in Colorado (includes sheriffs, police, and state agencies) reported 3,482 incidences of crime in 2012, an increase from 3,431 in 2011.

Of those reported crimes, there were 160 incidences of homicide. This translates to a murder rate of 3.1 percent per 100,000 crimes and an increase of 2.6 percent from 2011. Other totals during 2012 included:

  • Forcible rapes: 2,055
  • Robberies: 3,349
  • Aggravated assaults: 10,155
  • Other assaults: 28,490
  • Burglary: 25,673
  • Larceny: 98,863
  • Auto theft: 11,947


The Criminal Investigators of the Colorado Bureau of Investigation

Individuals who want to work as a detective in Colorado at the state level are best served by learning more about the careers in criminal investigations available through the Colorado Department of Public Safety, Colorado Bureau of Investigation.

The criminal investigators of the Colorado Bureau of Investigation (CBI), who work through the Bureau’s Investigative Services division, have a mission to promote safety and security through criminal investigations. Their work includes serving local district attorneys, law enforcement agencies, and other state agencies.

These investigative professionals, who are commonly referred to as field agents, are stationed at one of four CBI field offices:

  • Denver (headquarters)
  • Grand Junction
  • Durango
  • Pueblo

The CBI’s detectives/criminal investigators are responsible for investigating:

  • Arson
  • Crimes against persons
  • Identity theft
  • Public corruption
  • Drug investigations
  • Other complex crime investigations

Their expertise is also used to provide training to law enforcement agencies throughout Colorado.

The specialty units of the Investigative Services Division include:

  • Arson Investigation: Arson investigators provide a full range of fire investigation techniques, including determining the origin of the fire, performing insurance research, completing investigative follow ups, and executing search warrants
  • Organized Crime/Division of Gaming: The CBI is responsible for investigating violations related to the Colorado Organized Crime Control Act, which includes individuals or organizations who attempt to illegally infiltrate Colorado’s legalized gambling industry.
  • Cold Case: The CBI oversees the Colorado Cold Case Database, which includes information regarding unsolved homicides, mission person cases, and unidentified person cases.
  • Identity Theft/Identity Fraud: CBI investigators work to investigate cases of identity theft, which include: credit card fraud, phone/utilities fraud, bank/finance fraud, and government documents fraud.
  • Major Crimes: The CBI’s Major Crimes unit provides general investigative assistance to law enforcement agencies regarding homicide, arson, burglary, corruption, sexual assault, theft, critical incidents, and public corruption. They also provide analytical intelligence support to the following:
    • Amber Alert programs/Endangered Alert programs
    • Missing persons (children and adults)
    • Cold case investigations
    • Drug task forces
    • Unregistered sex offenders/fugitives

How to Become a Criminal Investigator with the Colorado Bureau of Investigation

Those interested in becoming criminal investigators with the Colorado Bureau of Investigation (CBI) must be able to meet the minimum requirements for employment, which include earning a bachelor’s degree.

The majority of candidates with their set on detective jobs choose to pursue a bachelor’s degree in a major that is highly relevant to the profession:

  • Criminal justice
  • Criminology
  • Justice administration
  • Forensics
  • Forensic psychology
  • Sociology
  • Police science

Candidates must also have at least two years of full-time experience working as a law enforcement professional in an investigative (non-patrol) capacity. This means candidates must be POST certified to qualify for these positions.

Criminal Investigators With Colorado’s Police Departments and Sheriff’s Offices

Criminal investigations are typically carried out through both city police departments and county sheriff departments.

In Colorado, the largest law enforcement departments at the regional level include:

  • Denver Police Department, Major Crimes and Investigations
  • Colorado Springs Police Department, Investigations Division
  • Aurora Police Department, Investigations Bureau
  • Fort Collins Police Department, Investigations Services
  • Lakewood Police Department, Investigation Division
  • Thornton Police Department, Detective Division
  • Pueblo Police Department, Criminal Investigation Division
  • El Paso County Sheriff’s Office, Investigations Division
  • Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office, Investigation Services
  • Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office, Criminal Investigation Division
  • Adams County Sheriff’s Office, Detective Division

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