How to Become a Criminal Investigator in Rhode Island

Detectives were involved with investigating many of the 2,651 violent crimes committed in Rhode Island in 2012. These criminal investigators are employed by law enforcement agencies across the state, ranging from local police departments to the State Police.

Criminal investigators fill an important role in the law enforcement and criminal justice systems, lending their specialized skills to isolating and securing evidence and witness testimony for use in a court of law.

The Rhode Island State Police Detective Bureau provides assistance to local law enforcement agencies while also conducting investigations of its own. The State Police Detective Bureau devotes skilled personnel to manage:

  • Witness protection program
  • Major crimes
  • Computer crimes
  • Auto theft
  • Narcotics
  • Violent fugitives
  • Food safety
  • Gaming
  • Financial crimes

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Joining the Rhode Island State Police Detective Bureau

Education and Other Qualifications – Those applying for jobs with the Rhode Island State Police while holding a college degree in certain fields may be shown preference. The State Police believes that having an associate’s or bachelor’s degree demonstrates a commitment to the duties of a law enforcement officer. Although detective requirements do not mandate a degree, having one can also improve long-term career prospects. Candidates often hold a degree in areas such as:

  • Criminal Justice
  • Law Enforcement
  • Police Science

To become a criminal investigator with the Rhode Island State Police Detective Bureau, candidates will first need to gain experience as a State Police Officer or Trooper. The requirements for recruitment into these positions are:

  • US citizenship
  • Valid driver’s license
  • Be at least 18 years of age and not more than 35
  • Be in good physical shape
  • Have a high school diploma or GED

Application – Candidates for entry-level trooper positions can fill out an initial application online. The application process proceeds through several stages:

  • Written examination
  • Physical agility test
  • Oral board examinations
  • Background investigation
  • Medical and psychological evaluations

To become a detective, candidates will be evaluated on their employment, experience, and education record when vacancies become available within the Detective Bureau.

Training – Besides the initial 22-week training academy new recruits go through, being promoted to the Detective Bureau will also entail some additional criminal investigator training. While those who move up to these positions will already have experience in many of the following areas, detective training will fill in any of the gaps for key skills in:

  • Conducting overt and covert investigations
  • White-collar crime investigations
  • Major crime networks
  • Investigative technology
  • Drug trafficking
  • Apprehension of armed and dangerous fugitives

Serving in Specialized Units within the State Police Detective Bureau

Because State Police detectives operate in many areas of specialization, the range of duties these criminal investigators perform can be quite broad. One way of demonstrating what the Detective Bureau is like is to look at some of its recent activity:

  • Detectives working as part of the Bureau’s Violent Fugitive Task Force and High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Unit arrested a Providence woman for failing to appear for her court date relating to her possession of cocaine.
  • Detectives recently arrested an East Providence man on charges of indecent solicitation and possession of child pornography following an incident documented by airport police. Passengers on a flight from South Carolina to the TF Green Airport alerted airport police when they learned that a 13-year-old girl was traveling by herself on the flight to meet the suspect for the first time after spending months chatting online.
  • Acting on a tip from Ohio law enforcement, Rhode Island State Police detectives arrested a man on felony charges of assault stemming from an earlier instance across state lines. The man was scheduled to fight in a mixed martial arts match at the Twin River Casino, however detectives arrested him before the event could begin.
  • Narcotics detectives with the State Police recently participated in a joint operation with three local police departments to conduct raids at four locations in the Smithfield, Foster, and West Warwick areas. The raids netted law enforcement with more than 1,200 packets of synthetic marijuana and an excess of $21,000 in cash. Seven state residents were arrested on charges relating to the sale of the illegal drug.

Detectives Serving in City Police Departments Throughout Rhode Island

In addition to criminal investigator jobs with the State Police Detective Bureau, larger municipal police departments across Rhode Island also have specialized detective units. Municipally based criminal investigators with these police departments often work closely with detectives from the State Police:

  • Providence Police Department, Investigative Division
  • Warwick Police Department, Detective Division
  • Cranston Police Department, Detective Division
  • Pawtucket Police Department, Detective Division
  • East Providence Police Department, Detective Division
  • Woonsocket Police Department, Detective Division
  • Coventry Police Department, Detective Division
  • Cumberland Police Department, Detective Division
  • North Providence Police Department, Detective Division
  • South Kingston Police Department, Detective Division

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