How to Become a Criminal Investigator with the Birmingham
Police Department

Birmingham is the largest city in the State of Alabama, with a population of about 242,000 and a metropolitan population of nearly 1.1 million. The population in Birmingham represents about 24 percent of the entire population of Alabama and ranks 48th among the nation’s top 300 most populous metropolitan areas.

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Given this densely populated southern city, it comes as no surprise that the Birmingham Police Department and its Investigative Operations Bureau is one of the largest and most well-established departments of its kind in the United States.

How to Become a Criminal Investigator with the Birmingham Police Department

To become a detective through the Birmingham Police Department, most candidates first secure a job as a Birmingham police officer and gain valuable experience in law enforcement.

Minimum Qualifications for Employment

The Birmingham Police Department requires that all candidates possess a set of minimum qualifications, which include being at least 21 years old, possessing a valid Alabama driver’s license, and passing a physical fitness examination prior to their appointment.

Selected candidates must be able to successfully complete the police officer selection process, which includes:

  • A written civil service examination
  • A physical abilities test
  • A pre-employment physical fitness screening
  • A polygraph examination
  • A background investigation
  • A psychological screening

Academy Training

Upon being hired with the Department, all new recruits must successfully complete 920 hours of Academy instruction, 480 hours of which is required by the Alabama Peace Officers Standards and Training Commission.

Academy training lasts about 20 weeks. Upon completion of Academy training, officers are then sworn in and assigned to a field-training officer with the Patrol Division, during which time they must complete a 16-week Field Training Program.

Officers who successfully complete all phases of training and gain experience in the Patrol Division are eligible to transfer to one of the Department’s career specialties, such as Detective.

Education Options

Although not set in stone, the typical time frame for advancement is three years of interrupted service. However, individuals who have completed at least 24 semester hours of relevant coursework in criminal justice or a related law enforcement field may be eligible for promotion after two years of interrupted service. Other relevant areas of study may include:

  • Criminology
  • Crime Scene Investigations
  • Police science


To qualify to become a Birmingham police officer, individuals must apply with the Department through Applicants can learn more about the job of a Birmingham police officer by attending the Birmingham Police Department Recruit Training Program.

About Birmingham’s Investigative Operations Bureau

Individuals who want to become criminal investigators in Birmingham through the Birmingham Police Department have a plethora of job opportunities, considering that the Birmingham Investigative Operations Bureau is organized into four divisions, each of which is led by a Division Commander (Captain):

  • Crimes Against Persons
    • Robbery
    • Homicide: Includes all felony assaults, kidnappings, homicides, and other crimes against persons
      • Sex Crime Unit
      • Crime Reduction Team
      • Cold Case Unit
    • Project ICE (Isolate the Criminal Element)
  • Crimes Against Property
    • Burglary
      • Arson Unit
      • Pawn Shop Detail
    • Auto Theft
    • Major Fraud
  • Special Victims Division
    • Juvenile Unit
    • Domestic Violence Unit
    • Project SAFE
    • Youth Services
  • Vice/Narcotics

There are also several other sub-units within this Bureau, including a number of federal-led investigative task forces, including:

  • U.S. Marshals Fugitive Task Force
  • Crime Reduction Team
  • Drug Enforcement Administration Task Force
  • Joint Terrorism Task Force

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