How to Become a Criminal Investigator in New Mexico

New Mexico’s police detectives and other criminal investigators serve a vital role in the state’s criminal justice system by working to identify and apprehend criminal suspects. These experienced professionals use their skills to solve major crimes at the state and local level, which in a recent year included:

  • 72 murder and manslaughter cases
  • 621 cases of forcible rape
  • 1,507 robberies
  • 5,658 aggravated assaults

Working in criminal investigations is not for everyone. Detectives may be called to work at gruesome crime scenes at any hour of the day or night.

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Becoming a detective starts with gaining prior law enforcement experience as stipulated in the hiring requirements of individual state and local agencies, which in New Mexico include:

  • New Mexico State Police, Investigations Bureau
  • New Mexico Department of Public Safety, Special Investigations Division
  • Albuquerque Police Department, Criminal Investigations Bureau
  • Las Cruces Police Department, Criminal Investigations Section
  • Rio Rancho Police Department, Law Enforcement Services
  • Santa Fe Police Department, Criminal Investigations Division
  • San Juan County Sheriff’s Office, Detective Division
  • Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Department, Criminal Investigations Division

Steps to Becoming a Detective in New Mexico

Statewide Qualifications

Basic detective requirements across the state include the following. These are also the basic requirements for entry-level police officer positions:

  • High school diploma or GED
  • US citizenship
  • Be at least 18 to 21 years old
  • Have no serious criminal convictions
  • Driver’s license with a good driving record

An associate’s degree in one of a number of relevant subject areas is recommended for those considering long-term career goals with their eyes on becoming a detective. Regardless of an agency’s requirements, having some college education in any of the following subjects will foster essential criminal investigator skills:

  • Law
  • Criminal Justice
  • Police Science
  • Law Enforcement
  • Crime Scene Investigation
  • Criminalistics

Statewide Training Standards

To become a criminal investigator, detective, police officer, or sheriff’s deputy in New Mexico requires becoming a certified law enforcement officer. This is accomplished by completing a training academy sponsored by the New Mexico Department of Public Safety, Training and Recruiting Division. This agency offers basic and advanced training academies for law enforcement personnel from across the state who are required to complete extensive training before becoming certified.

Criminal Investigator Jobs with the New Mexico State Police Investigation Bureau

Criminal investigators, also known as detectives, with the New Mexico State Police Investigation Bureau (PIB) concentrate on investigating serious crimes that occur throughout the state, with a particular focus on violent criminals and felony crimes. Specific divisions within the Investigations Bureau are:

  • Crime Scene Team
  • Online Predator Unit
  • Analytical Unit

To qualify for detective jobs with the PIB, candidates will need to have at least two years of work experience in law enforcement or criminal investigations. Four years of experience in these fields is recommended.

Applicants with an associate’s degree or higher are shown preference if the degree is in subjects related to:

  • Criminology
  • Police Science
  • Criminal Justice
  • Law Enforcement
  • Business Administration

Moving beyond the entry-level criminal investigator requirements, as a detective’s rank increases so do the minimum qualifications. An advanced detective position requires a bachelor’s degree in the above-mentioned subjects.

Qualifying to Become a Detective with New Mexico’s Largest Municipal Police Departments

Albuquerque Police Department Criminal Investigations Bureau

Criminal investigators with the Albuquerque Police Department Criminal Investigations Bureau (CIB) can work in several specialized units:

  • Family Advocacy Center
  • Crisis Intervention Team
  • Metropolitan Forensic Science Center
  • Criminal Intelligence

To become a detective with the CIB, candidates will need to have a good performance record working as a patrol officer for at least two years. Joining the force as a patrol officer requires:

  • Being at least 21 years old
  • Two years of college education in any subject, which may be substituted with any of the following:
    • Three years of active military service with an honorable discharge
    • Two years of experience as a Police Service Aide with the city
    • Three years of law enforcement experience

Las Cruces Police Department’s Criminal Investigations Section

The Las Cruces Police Department’s Criminal Investigations Section (CIS) is comprised of several types of criminal investigators:

  • Crimes against persons detectives
  • Crimes against children detectives
  • Financial crimes detectives
  • Property crimes detectives
  • Domestic violence officers
  • Warrant officers

To become a detective with the CIS candidates will need to have served at least two years with the Las Cruces Police Department as an entry-level police officer. Joining the Las Cruces PD requires applicants to be at least 19 years old by the time they complete the police academy.

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