How to Become a Criminal Investigator with the Phoenix
Police Department

As the sixth most populous city in the United States, Phoenix has a population of more than 1.4 million, which doesn’t include the more than 16 million people who visit this city every year.

It comes as no surprise that the Phoenix Police Department is massive, as it includes no less than 32 bureaus, 80 specialty assignments, and a workforce of more than 2,800 officers.

The Phoenix Police Department reported a total of 69,942 criminal offenses in 2012, 9,498 of which were violent crimes and 60,444 of which were property crimes. During the same period, there were: 243 homicides; 3,233 robberies; 5,506 aggravated assaults; and 16,747 burglaries.

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Becoming a Detective with the Phoenix Police Department

Becoming a detective with the Phoenix Police Department starts with becoming a police officer and gaining valuable experience. To become a police cadet with the Department, applicants must be at least 20 years old and must be able to complete the lengthy employment process.

Applicants must first check the Phoenix Police Department’s website, as the Department posts the next available test date to take the written exam, the first step in the employment process. All written exams are held at the City of Phoenix’s Personnel Building, which is located at 135 North Second Avenue, Phoenix, AZ 85003. All applicants are notified, on the day of testing, whether they passed or failed.

Individuals who pass the written exam must then complete the employment process, which includes:

  • A physical agility exam
  • The completion of a background investigation packet and initial interview
  • A polygraph examination
  • A drug screening test
  • A psychological evaluation
  • A medical exam

All selected candidates must complete an 18-week Academy training program. All police officers begin their careers serving on patrol for three years.

After the completion of this initial phase of employment, officers are eligible to apply for a job within the Department’s 32 bureaus and 80 areas of specialty, which includes criminal investigations.

To become a police sergeant with the Department, individuals must serve for a period of 4 years as a police officer and complete 75 hours of college credit (45 of which may be achieved through specialty assignments and other job-related achievements). It is commonplace for individuals in this field to pursue college coursework in a field related to the profession, including:

  • Criminal justice
  • Criminology
  • Justice administration

Criminal Investigations Units within the Phoenix Police Department

Individuals who want to become detectives will no doubt be pleased with the number of professional opportunities present through the Phoenix Police Department’s Criminal Investigations Division, which is organized into a number of units:

  • Cold Case – Adult Sex Crime: Responsible for investigating any sexual assault case that remains unsolved for more than one year after being reported and has no new investigative leads
  • Cold Case – Homicide: Responsible for resolving homicide investigations that remain unsolved for more than one year and lack evidence or witnesses
  • Family Investigations Bureau: Responsible for investigating cases of sexual abuse, domestic violence, and crimes against children
  • Missing and Unidentified Persons Detail: Responsible for investigating missing persons reports
  • Vehicular Crimes Unit: Responsible for investigating vehicular crimes, including serious traffic collisions
  • Violent Crimes Bureau: Responsible for conducting follow-up investigations regarding violent crimes; the following units are organized within this bureau:

    • Assaults Unit – Investigates:
      • Arson
      • Assaults
      • Aggravated assaults
      • Attempted suicides
      • Bounty hunter
      • Compounding an assault crime
      • Conspiracies
      • Criminal nuisance offenses
      • Curfew violations
      • Disorderly conduct
      • Drive-by shooting
      • Endangerment
      • Elder abuse
      • Escape
      • Injured persons
      • Hindering prosecutions
      • False reporting to a police officer
      • Impersonating a public servant
    • Gang Enforcement
    • Robbery Unit – Investigates:
      • Bank robberies
      • Business robberies
      • Home invasions
      • Car jackings
      • Aggravated robberies
    • Homicide Unit
    • Night Detective Detail – Investigates:
      • Homicides
      • Robberies
      • Assaults
      • Death investigations

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