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How to Become a Criminal Investigator in Massachusetts

Although Massachusetts has some of the strictest gun control laws in the nation, violent crimes committed with firearms have increased in the state since 1998, according to the FBI. By way of comparison, there were 65 murders committed with firearms in 1998, compared to 122 in 2011. Additionally, aggravated assaults with firearms rose 26.7 percent during the period.

It is clear that there is a need for qualified, trained criminal investigators across the state of Massachusetts to resolve these violent crimes.

State Level Detective Jobs in Massachusetts

Detectives working for the Massachusetts State Police work in units across the state, investigating crimes and assisting county and local police. These units include:

  • Bristol
  • Berkshire
  • Essex
  • Cape & Islands
  • Hampden
  • Franklin/Hampshire
  • Norfolk
  • Middlesex
  • Suffolk
  • Plymouth
  • Worcester

The Massachusetts State Police Detective Unit has divisions dedicated to specific criminal investigative specialties. Becoming a criminal investigator in Massachusetts may mean working for one of the following divisions of the Massachusetts State Police:

  • Computer forensic detectives
  • Narcotic detective
  • Homicide detectives
  • White collar crime detectives
  • Sexual assault detectives

In order to become a detective with the Massachusetts State Police, one must first become a Massachusetts State Trooper. Requirements for this job include:

  • Being older than 21but less than 35
  • Be a U.S. citizen and Massachusetts resident
  • Have a valid Massachusetts driver’s license
  • Having a high school diploma/GED
  • Passing fitness, medical, psychological and written examinations
  • Passing a background check
  • Not smoking any tobacco products
  • Having no visible body art

Those who are selected to become a state trooper will attend training at the State Police Academy in New Braintree. State troopers may work their way up to Detective as positions become available. Applicants must pass an exam before they will be promoted to Detective.

County Level Detective Jobs in Massachusetts

Detectives working in sheriff’s departments across Massachusetts investigate crimes occurring within their county. They will likely be assisted in their endeavors by detectives from the Massachusetts State Police. Examples of agencies that employ criminal investigators in Massachusetts on the county level include:

  • Plymouth County Sheriff’s Department Bureau of Criminal Investigation – Detectives working within the BCI in Plymouth County assist local, other county, and state law enforcement agencies in investigating crimes. Much of their work involves collecting and analyzing evidence from crime scenes. Detectives must start as Deputy Sheriffs before they can climb the career ladder.

Requirements for the position of Deputy Sheriff include:

  • Being at least 21 years old
  • Being a U.S. citizen with a valid Massachusetts driver’s license
  • Passing a background and criminal history check

Aspiring Detectives in Plymouth County must, as new Deputy Sheriffs, attend Massachusetts Municipal Police Training Committee Reserve Intermittent Basic Police Academy training.

  • Suffolk County Sheriff’s Department Investigative Division – Criminal investigators working within Suffolk County’s Investigative Division in the largest sheriff’s department in Massachusetts investigate and collect evidence at the scenes of crimes occurring across the county. They also interview inmates at the Suffolk County House of Correction and Nashua Street Jail. Investigators work closely with the Office of the General Counsel, Classification Division and Gang Investigative Unit.

Deputy Sheriffs may work their way up to becoming investigators if desired. Requirements for the entry-level deputy sheriff job are:

  • Be at least 21 years old and a U.S. citizen
  • Have a high school diploma or GED (having a college degree, however, can put you on the fast track to work your way up to Detective)
  • Pass a background check
  • Pass written, physical, oral and fitness exams

Training takes place at the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Department Training Facility in Chelsea.

City Level Criminal Investigator Jobs in Massachusetts

Criminal investigators in Massachusetts may also work for city police departments. Again, these investigators will likely work in conjunction with county, state and other law enforcement agencies in investigating crimes occurring within their city. Detectives in Massachusetts may work in:

  • Boston Police Department Bureau of Investigative Services – the BIS consists of investigators working within four divisions: Criminal Investigation, Major Case, Investigative Planning and Community Disorders. Investigators working with the Criminal Investigation Division may be responsible for gathering and analyzing forensic evidence, investigating crimes occurring within districts of Boston, tracking and prosecuting fugitives, and investigating homicides and suspicious deaths.

Detectives working with the BIS start as police officers, who must meet the following job qualifications:

  • Be at least 21 years old
  • Be a U.S. citizen with a valid Massachusetts driver’s license
  • Have a high school diploma or GED, or three years of armed forces experience
  • Be a Boston resident for at least one year
  • Pass the Police Officer Civil Service Exam
  • Pass physical, medical and psychological tests

New police officers in Boston must complete six months of training at the Boston Police Academy. Once one becomes a Boston police officer, the process of working towards a detective job begins.

  • Somerville Police Department Criminal Investigation Division – The city’s CID consists of the General Investigations Unit, Gang/Anti-Crime Unit, Narcotics/Vice Control Unit, and the Family Services Unit. Criminal investigators in the CID may be assigned to any of these units.

In order to become a detective in Somerville, one must first become a police officer, which involves:

  • Being between 19 and 32 years of age
  • Having a high school diploma/GED or three years of armed forces experience
  • Be a U.S. citizen and a Massachusetts resident
  • Pass written, physical and medical examinations
  • Pass a background check

Police officers in Somerville complete departmental training depending upon the area to which they are assigned. For example, those assigned to K-9 units will receive specialized training in narcotics detection and patrol operations.

  • Springfield Detective Bureau – Also known as the Criminal Investigation Bureau, detectives in Springfield work in the areas of photo laboratory, property, task force, identification, auto theft, arson and bomb squads, breaking and entering larceny and homicide/robbery.

These detectives begin their careers as police officers in Springfield, with the following qualifications:

  • Must be at least 21 years old
  • Be a U.S. citizen
  • Have a high school diploma/equivalent (but having a degree will increase your salary from 10 to 25 percent of your base pay)
  • Pass a background check
  • Pass written, physical and medical exams

Training for new Springfield police officers takes place at the Springfield Police Academy. Specialized training will be given to officers based upon their duty assignments. Officers may have the opportunity to apply for detective jobs as they become available.

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