How to Become a Criminal Investigator in Alabama

In fiscal year 2012, the Federal Bureau of Investigation reported that among Alabama’s 4.8 million residents there were:

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  • 21,693 incidences of violent crime
  • 342 murder and manslaughter cases
  • 1,296 cases of rape
  • 5,020 cases of robbery
  • 15,035 cases of aggravated assault
  • 168,878 cases of property crime
  • 47,481 burglary cases

Detectives in Alabama work at the state, regional or local level to resolve the crimes that take place within their jurisdictions.

State-Level Criminal Investigator Jobs in Alabama

Alabama Bureau of Investigation

The Alabama Bureau of Investigation (ABI) serves as the investigative branch of the Alabama Department of Public Safety. The ABI provides investigative services that support other divisions within Alabama’s criminal justice system. Instead of serving as a first responder, the criminal investigators of the ABI generally provide their services upon request by a criminal justice agency.

The ABI works out of four geographic regions, each of which is under the direction of a captain. Each ABI geographic region is then further divided into an ABI area (there are eight in Alabama). Most offices of the ABI are located in close proximity to Alabama Highway Patrol operations.

The Criminal Investigation Support Group of the ABI consists of 65 arresting officers and civilian personnel who oversee support for criminal investigations for state, local, and federal law enforcement agencies throughout Alabama and the U.S.

The Criminal Investigation Support Group provides services for:

  • Alabama Center for Missing and Exploited Children
  • Alabama Fusion Center
  • Alabama Missing Senior Alert
  • Bomb Squad
  • Community Information Center
  • Cyber Crimes
  • Dive Team
  • Identification Unit
  • Internet Crimes Against Children
  • Latent Print Unit
  • Sex Offender Registry

Alabama Attorney General’s Office

The Investigations Division of the Alabama Attorney General’s Office investigates a number of criminal matters, including:

  • White collar crime
  • Violent crimes
  • Public corruption
  • Cold cases related to rapes and murders

Regional-Level Criminal Investigator Jobs in Alabama

Some of the largest criminal investigation operations in Alabama at the regional level include:

Montgomery Police Department, Criminal Investigation Division

The Criminal Investigation Division of the Montgomery Police Department consists of five, separate bureaus:

    • Bureau of Forensic Sciences: Responsible for working crime scenes related to major crimes, such as murder, robbery, rapes, burglaries, etc.; includes:
      • Cyber Crimes
      • Fingerprint Identification
      • Photography
    • Major Crimes Bureau: Responsible for the investigation of felony crimes against persons; divided into:
      • Homicide unit
      • Robbery unit
      • Pawn shop/scrap yard
      • Auto theft task force

  • General Investigations Bureau: Responsible for the investigation of all felony crimes; organizes into precincts
  • SVU/Juvenile Enforcement Bureau
  • Domestic Violence Bureau

Birmingham Police Department, Investigative Operations Bureau

The Birmingham Police Department’s Investigative Operations Bureau is divided into four divisions:

  • Crimes Against Persons: Includes robbery, homicides
  • Crimes Against Property: Includes burglary, arson, auto theft, and major fraud
  • Special Victims: Includes juvenile unit, domestic violent, Project SAFE, and youth services
  • Vice/Narcotics

Madison County Sheriff’s Office, Criminal Investigations Division

The Madison County Sheriff’s Office, Criminal Investigations Division is divided into a Crime Scene Unit, which processes crime scenes, collects evidence, and works with investigators, and the Narcotics and Vice Unit, which is focused on taking illicit drugs out of the hands of users and conducting investigations aimed at convicting persons who traffic illegal drugs.

Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office, Investigations Division

The Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office, Investigation Division is organized into the following:

  • Criminal investigation
  • Special (tactical) operations
  • Training
  • Firing range
  • Task force assignments

Its Special Operations Division includes narcotics investigations and tactical operations. Narcotics investigators handle all drug-related crimes, and tactical operations (tactical team) operations include: narcotics search warrants, dignitary protection, missing persons search and rescue, severe weather response, and airborne insertions.

Steps to Becoming a Detective in Alabama

Education and Experience Requirements

Individuals who want to learn how to become a detective in Alabama and work either at the state or regional level must, at a minimum, possess a high school diploma. However, it is commonplace for detectives to hold a bachelor’s degree.

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Typical areas of study in the field of criminal investigation includes:

  • Criminal justice
  • Criminology
  • Social work
  • Political science
  • Police science
  • Psychology
  • Forensic science

Many agencies also prefer candidates with previous experience in law enforcement, security, or the military. As such, it is quite typical for hiring agencies to seek candidates who have experience as police officers; lateral transfers are commonplace.

Alabama POST Commission Certification

Formal training for detective jobs in Alabama is not typical, as the majority of criminal investigators receive most of their training through on-the-job experiences. However, all individuals working as peace officers in Alabama must complete an Alabama POST Commission training program.

The Alabama Peace officers Standards and Training (POST) Commission sets all standards for police officers and criminal investigators/detectives in Alabama by ensuring that all peace officers meet the minimum requirements for physical and mental skills.

The minimum number of training hours required to work as a peace officer in Alabama is 480 hours, although many agencies choose to require additional training hours. There are ten APOST-certified training academies located throughout the Alabama:

  • Northeast Alabama Law Enforcement Agency
  • Montgomery Police Academy
  • Mobile Police Academy
  • Jefferson County Law Enforcement Academy
  • Huntsville Police Academy
  • Department of Corrections Training Academy
  • Birmingham Police Academy
  • APOSTC Law Enforcement Academy, Baldwin County
  • APOSTC Law Enforcement Academy at Tuscaloosa
  • Alabama Criminal Justice Training Center

After the completion of POST-certified training and after number of years working as a peace officer in Alabama, individuals may choose to then pursue criminal investigator jobs. For example, to work as a criminal investigator in Montgomery County, candidates must complete training through the Montgomery Police Academy to become a police officer. After working as a police officer for two years, police officers may apply for a transfer to any division, including criminal investigations, by written request.

Likewise, individuals who want to become a criminal investigator in Madison County must either have at least 4 years of experience as a law enforcement officer, including two years of investigative experience, as well as certification by the Alabama POST Commission.

At the state level, individuals who want to become criminal investigators in Alabama and work for the Alabama Bureau of Investigation must:

  • Possess a high school diploma or GED
  • Meet the requirements of the Alabama POST Commission
  • Complete state trooper training at the Alabama Criminal Justice Training Center in Selma
  • Complete at least 3 years in Highway Patrol to be eligible for assignment in another division, including criminal investigations

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