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How to Become a Criminal Investigator in Arizona

According to the Arizona Department of Public Safety, there was one major crime committed in the State every 2 minutes in 2012. This translates into 250,898 reported offenses, which is tantamount to rate of 3,860 crimes per 100,000 residents, based on a population of 6.498 million.

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Of reported crimes in during the same period, 25,902 were classified as violent. In all, violent crimes in Arizona accounted for 10.3 percent of the total Crime Index.

The need for qualified criminal investigators to handle the investigation of crimes in Arizona is significant. Detectives may work in Arizona at the state or regional/local level.

State Agencies in Arizona with Criminal Investigation Divisions

Arizona Department of Public Safety, Criminal Investigations Division – The Arizona Department of Safety, Criminal Investigations Division (CID) provides investigative and specialized response services using a number of investigative strategies and resources. This CID provides support services to all other criminal justice agencies in Arizona through enforcement activities and high-risk tactical response.

The investigative responsibilities of the CID include:

  • Computer and financial crimes
  • Fugitive apprehension
  • Gangs
  • Human smuggling
  • Intelligence
  • Major criminal investigations
  • Narcotic trafficking
  • Organized crime
  • Special investigations when requested by other criminal justice agencies
  • Vehicle theft

Arizona Department of Revenue, Criminal Investigation Unit – The Arizona Department of Revenue’s Criminal Investigation Unit is responsible for conducting criminal investigations involving tax evasion, fraudulent tax activity, and related issues.

Regional Agencies in Arizona with Criminal Investigation Divisions

Phoenix Police Department – The Phoenix Police Department’s criminal investigations efforts are organized into a number of units:

  • Cold Case –Adult Sex Crimes: Responsible for any sexual assault case that remains unsolved for more than one year and has no viable or unexplored investigative leads
  • Cold Case – Homicide: Responsible for resolving all investigations that lack evidence or remains unsolved
  • Family Investigations Bureau: Responsible for investigating cases of domestic violence, sexual abuse, and crimes against children
  • Missing and Unidentified Persons: Responsible for following up on all missing person reports
  • Vehicular Crimes Unit: Responsible for investigating serious traffic collisions
  • Violent Crimes Bureau: Responsible for conducting initial follow-up investigations

Mesa Police Department, Criminal Investigations Unit – The Mesa Police Department, Criminal Investigations Unit is organized as follows:

  • Persons Crimes: Crimes against persons involves the investigation of:
    • Homicides
    • Suspicious deaths
    • Member involved shootings
    • Crimes of violence
    • Kidnappings
    • Robberies
    • Stalking (non-domestic) cases
  • Violent Crimes: Responsible for following up on incidents involving:
    • Assaults
    • Kidnappings
    • Threats
    • Harassment
    • Hate crimes
    • School threats
    • Terror threats
    • Weapons violations
  • Robbery Unit: Responsible for investigating personal and commercial robberies, including robberies of businesses, persons, and financial institutions, as well as home invasions and carjackings.

Scottsdale Police Department, Investigative Services Division – The Scottsdale Police Department, Investigative Services Division is organized into five divisions based on areas of responsibility, and each section is organized into smaller units that have specific investigative responsibilities:

  • Crimes Against Persons: Includes the Violent Crimes Unit, the Domestic Violence Unit, the Sex Crimes Unit, and the Gang Investigations Unit
  • Crimes Against Property: Includes the Auto Crimes Unit, the Burglary and Theft Unit, the Financial Crimes Unit, and the Repeat Offender Program
  • Special Investigations – Drugs/Technical Operations Unit: Includes the Drug Enforcement Unit, the Drug Enforcement Administration Taskforce, and the Technical Operations Unit
  • Special Investigations – Tactical/Intelligence Unit: Includes the Special Assignments Unit, SWAT, and the Criminal Intelligence Unit

Tucson Police Department, Special Investigations Division – The Tucson Police Department, Special Investigations Division is broken down into the following divisions:

  • Gang Investigations Detail
  • Gang Tactical Detail
  • Home Invasion Unit
  • Intelligence Unit
  • Organized Crime Unit
  • Undercover Operations Squad

Meeting the Qualification to Become a Detective in Arizona

Becoming a detective in Arizona, either at the state or regional level, involves a different set of qualifications, depending on the hiring agency. What is constant throughout all agencies, however, is that individuals must first become law enforcement officers and gain at least a few years of experience before they can qualify to become detectives:

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Featured Programs:

Regis University offers an Online Bachelor and Master of Science in Criminology

Saint Joseph's University offers an Online Master of Science in Criminal Justice

Capella University offers 100% online criminal justice degree programs and is proud to be partnered with the FBI National Academy Associates (FBINAA).

Arizona Department of Public Safety – Individuals who want to become detectives with the Arizona Department of Public Safety must first become a patrol officer with the Department, which requires being at least 21 years old, possessing a high school diploma or GED, and completing the Arizona Department of Public Safety patrol officer training program.

Patrol officers may transfer over to detectives and work for the Criminal Investigations Division after at least three years of experience as a patrol officer. Candidates should also have criminal investigative experience that was earned while on patrol. Further, the Department notes that the most qualified officers possess education, training, and/or experience in criminal investigations and related duties.

Related education may include a college or university degree or coursework in the field of criminal justice, criminology, or a related field.

Mesa Police Department – Individuals who want to become a criminal investigator for the Mesa Police Department must meet the following minimum requirements before applying:

  • A high school diploma or GED
  • At least 3 to 5 years of public contact experience
  • At least 2 years of sworn law enforcement experience

Phoenix Police Department – To qualify for a criminal investigator job with the Phoenix Police Department, candidates must meet the qualifications of a police sergeant, which includes:

  • At least four years of experience as a police officer
  • At least 75 hours of college credit (up to 45 hours of college credit may be satisfied through specialty assignments, designated skills, and other job-related achievements)

Scottsdale Police Department – To achieve a police detective job with the Scottsdale Police Department, individuals must become a police sergeant, which requires, at a minimum:

  • At least three years of experience as a Scottsdale police officer
  • An associate’s degree or at least two years of college-level coursework in:
    • Criminal justice
    • Public administration
    • A related field

Tucson Police Department – Individuals who want to become police investigators with the Tucson Police Department must serve as a police officer for at least 3 years. Before applying for the position of a detective and sergeant, individuals must complete the civil service process.

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