How to Become a Criminal Investigator in Minnesota

The State of Minnesota Department of Public Safety Uniform Crime Report for 2012 indicates that the crime index in the state increased 1.4 percent from 2011 to 2012. Violent crimes accounted for eight percent of all crimes statewide in 2012, and increased by 3.8 percent over 2011’s figures. All categories of violent crimes increased in Minnesota, the greatest increase being in murders, which rose by 26 percent from 2011 to 2012.

Startling statistics like these suggest that more criminal investigators and detectives are needed in the state of Minnesota to solve crimes and ensure justice is served.

Qualifying to Work for the Minnesota Criminal Apprehension Investigation Division

Applicants cannot work as an investigator with the Minnesota BCA’s Investigative Division without having law enforcement experience. It is necessary for all aspiring criminal investigators to first become POST (Peace Officer and Training Standards) certified.

POST Education Requirements – Education requirements stipulate a minimum of an associate degree from an accredited college or university and completion of an approved professional peace officer education (PPOE) program (a list of 25 programs that provide both the accepted degree and PPOE program may be found here).

The degree must be within a law enforcement or criminal justice area, and include classes such as:

  • Criminal law
  • Civil law
  • Minnesota criminal code
  • Community policing
  • Victims’ rights
  • Leadership
  • Communications
  • Interviewing
  • Conflict management
  • Computer applications

Minimum requirements for POST certification include:

  • U.S. citizenship
  • Valid Minnesota driver’s license
  • Pass a thorough background check
  • No felony convictions on record
  • Pass a medical examination
  • Pass a psychological interview
  • Pass a physical strength and agility test
  • Pass an oral examination
  • Pass the POST licensing examination

Internship Opportunities – One way to gain a possible advantage over other applicants for jobs with the BCA Investigations Unit is to seek an unpaid internship with the unit. Qualifications for this internship include:

  • U.S. citizen
  • Undergraduate junior or senior at a four-year accredited institution pursuing a major applicable to criminal justice
  • Have a valid Minnesota driver’s license
  • Pass a background investigation

The internship will last for one semester and will require the student to work for at least 200 hours for the BCA’s Investigations Unit. Deadlines for applying for the internship are October, March and May (based upon the start of the internship in January, June or September).

Task Forces and Specialty Units within the Minnesota Criminal Apprehension Investigation Division

Aspiring criminal investigators who want to work for the state of Minnesota should investigate the Minnesota Department of Public Safety Bureau of Criminal Apprehension Investigation Division. Known as the BCA, this division assists 87 county sheriff’s departments and more than 400 local law enforcement agencies across Minnesota in investigating crimes.

In 2011, the BCA’s Investigative Division investigated almost 1200 death cases, representing a 20-year high for them. The numbers of cases that the BCA investigates continues to increase as local law enforcement agencies rely heavily on the services of the special agents and detectives working there.

As of 2013, the BCA Investigation Division employed 84 staffers. The BCA Investigation Division works out of four offices:

  • The Predatory Crimes Section in St. Paul
  • The Southern Regional Office in Minneapolis
  • The Metro Regional Office in St. Paul
  • The Bemidji Regional Office in Bemidji

Detectives working for Minnesota BCA’s Investigative Division are known as special agents or analysts, and specialize in one or more of a number of different areas of criminal investigations:

  • Special operations/technical support
  • Predatory offenders
  • Drugs
  • Death
  • Crime scene
  • Conflict of interest
  • Cold case
  • Abduction or missing persons
  • Internet crimes against children

In addition, agents and analysts at the BCA work on task forces with other law enforcement agencies to investigate crimes. These task forces include:

  • North Star Fugitive Task Force
  • Joint Terrorism Task Force
  • Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force
  • U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Midwest Regional Task Force
  • U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration Task Force in the DEA’s Minneapolis and Fargo/Moorhead offices

Criminal Investigation Divisions in Minnesota’s Counties and Cities

Another choice of location for would-be investigators to work in Minnesota may be found within the state’s sheriff’s offices and city police departments. Some, but not all, of the state’s sheriff’s offices and police departments within Minnesota’s largest cities have their own criminal investigation divisions. These include (but are not limited to):

  • Blue Earth County Sheriff’s Office Detectives Division – Mankato
  • Olmstead County Sheriff’s Office Investigation Division–Rochester
  • Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office Investigative Division –Minneapolis
  • Anoka County Sheriff’s Office Criminal Investigation Division –Andover
  • Stearns County Sheriff’s Office Criminal Investigative Division–St. Cloud
  • City of Minneapolis Police Department Criminal Investigations Bureau –Minneapolis
  • Winona Police Department Criminal Investigation Division–Winona
  • Bloomington Police Department Investigations Division — Bloomington
  • Duluth Police Department Investigative/Administrative Division – Duluth
  • St. Paul Police Department Special Investigations Unit –St. Paul

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