How to Become a Criminal Investigator in Hawaii

The state of Hawaii reported its rate of serious crimes to be at a record low in 2012. This represented a drop of 2.4% from 2011 to 2012. Still, throughout the islands, 21 murders were reported in 2012 and the value of stolen goods was estimated to be over $70 million.

Detectives with the Hawaii Department of Public Safety are sheriff’s deputies who work throughout the islands investigating serious criminal cases.

Becoming a Criminal Investigator for the Hawaii Department of Public Safety

Residents of Hawaii can join the Hawaii Department of Public Safety and serve as criminal investigators at a number of levels, ranging from Investigator Level I to Investigator Level VI—the highest supervisory level.

Basic Educational Requirement – The basic educational requirement to become a detective for the state of Hawaii is a bachelor’s degree from an accredited school. Although the Department of Human Resources does not specify a particular major, many law enforcement officers choose to obtain degrees in such fields as criminal justice, law enforcement, or police science.

Basic Experience Option – Experience can be substituted for education on a year for year basis if it is of an adequate scope, quality, and level to ensure knowledge comparable to what would be gained through a bachelor’s degree program. The experience must demonstrate the following:

  • Reading and interpreting complex written material
  • Solving complex problems systematically and logically
  • Writing comprehensive and clear reports and other documents

Specialized Experience Requirements – Variable amounts of specialized experience are required to become a detective for the Hawaii Department of Public Safety depending on the level of the position. No specialized experience is required to apply for an Investigator I opening.

Years of specialized experience required for higher-level criminal investigator positions:

  • Investigator II – 0.5 year
  • Investigator III – 1.5 years
  • Investigator IV – 2.5 years
  • Investigator V – 3.5 years
  • Investigator VI – 4.5 years (must possess supervisory experience)

Applicants for these positions must have investigative experience that has involved progressive responsibility and that demonstrated the following qualities:

  • Resourcefulness, initiative, judgment, and ingenuity required to collect, assemble and develop facts
  • Ability to think objectively and logically
  • Ability to analyze and evaluate evidence, facts, and related information
  • Skill to prepare oral and written reports that present investigative findings clearly and concisely
  • Discretion, tact, and capacity for obtaining the confidence and cooperation of others

A law degree can substitute for two years of specialized experience.

Non-Qualifying Experience – Certain types of experience are not acceptable if they did not demonstrate the application of the types of investigative skills required or if they were clerical in nature. Examples of non-qualifying experience include the following:

  • A police officer that patrolled a beat or directed traffic
  • A watchman, guard, or private detective primarily assigned to protect life and property
  • An investigator who handled minor insurance damage claims
  • An investigator for collection agencies
  • A food or drug inspector

New Recruit Training – The Hawaii Department of Public Safety does not have a central training academy for its sheriff’s deputies. Academy training takes place at various places throughout the islands. All of the training conforms to standards developed by members of the Training and Staff Development (TSD) program.

After the recruits complete their courses, the TSD center provides the appropriate documentation to the facility’s training officer. In some cases, the immediate supervisor will provide on the job training to the new officer.

Hawaii’s Municipal and County Criminal Investigation Divisions

Residents of Hawaii who want to work as detectives for law enforcement agencies have other options besides working for the state. The following agencies have specialized criminal investigative divisions:

  • Hawaii Police Department Criminal Investigation Section
  • Kauai Police Department Investigative Services Bureau
  • Maui Police Department Criminal Investigative Division
  • Honolulu Police Department Criminal Investigation Division
    • Assault Detail
    • Auto Theft Detail
    • Child Abuse Detail
    • Domestic Violence Detail
    • Financial Fraud and Forgery Detail
    • Murder Detail
    • Robbery Detail
    • Sexual Assault Detail
    • White Color Crime Detail

Detectives in police departments generally start out as police officers and then are promoted to become detectives. In Honolulu, four such officers were promoted to the Criminal Investigations Division in January 2014.

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