How to Become a Criminal Investigator in Arkansas

According to the Arkansas Crime Information Center, there were 10,758 law enforcement officers working in Arkansas in 2012. Out of a population of 2.9 million, there were 253,330 crimes committed in that year. The FBI reported that, during the same time, there were 13,835 cases of violent crime in Arkansas, including 173 murders.

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Criminal investigators in Arkansas may work at the state level through the Arkansas State Police, as well as through the State’s cities and county police departments.

The Benefits of a College Degree for Detectives in Arkansas

Although becoming a criminal investigator in Arkansas does not necessitate the completion of a formal degree program, many aspiring detectives choose to pursue an associate’s or bachelor’s degree so as to enjoy additional advancement opportunities and better pay.

The Fort Smith Police Department, for example, rewards police officers and detectives who possess degrees with the following educational incentives:

  • Associate’s degree = 3 percent of base salary
  • Bachelor’s degree = 6 percent of base salary
  • Master’s degree = 7 percent of base salary

Just a few majors relevant to the field of criminal investigations include:

  • Criminal justice
  • Criminology
  • Forensic science
  • Justice administration
  • Psychology
  • Sociology

Becoming a Detective with theArkansas State Police

The Arkansas State Police employs a number of special agents who are responsible for investigating criminal cases that are generated through either the Arkansas State Police or through one of the State’s local law enforcement agencies.

Special agents with the Arkansas State Police first work in a uniformed patrol assignment as state troopers under the command of the department’s Highway Patrol Division.

Upon completion of the initial patrol assignment, which typically lasts about two years, State troopers may transfer within the department or to other divisions or operational positions, such as criminal investigations.

After three years of services, State troopers may sit for a promotional examination to achieve positions at the sergeant and lieutenant ranks.

Qualifying for Detective Jobs in Arkansas at the City Level

Little Rock Police Department, Investigative and Support Bureau

The Little Rock Police Department’s Investigative and Support Bureau consists of the following criminal investigators:

  • Burglary detective
  • Auto theft detective
  • Homicide detective
  • Juvenile detective
  • Violent crimes detective
  • Larceny detective
  • Robbery detective
  • Intelligence detective
  • Narcotics detective
  • Vice detective

Individuals who want to learn how to become a detective through the Little Rock Police Department must first become police officers with the Department, which requires being at least 21 years of age at the date of hire and possessing a high school diploma or GED.

Promotions within the Department are subject to a competitive assessment process and are achieved after working for a number of years as a police officer. For example, to achieve the rank of sergeant police officer, candidates must have at least 5 years of police officer experience.

Fort Smith Police Department, Criminal Investigation Division

Within the Fort Smith Police Department’s Criminal Investigation Division is the Detective Division, which consists of 6 units:

  • Crimes Against Persons Unit
  • Crimes Against Property Unit
  • Special Investigation Unit: Includes the Cyber Investigation Unit and the Juvenile and Family Violence Unit
  • Identification Unit
  • Narcotic Unit
  • Street Crimes Unit

Individuals who want to learn how to become a criminal investigator with the Fort Smith Police Department must first secure a job as a police officer with the Department, which requires, among other things, passing a civil service written test and a physical agility test and being at least 21 years old.

The Department notes that opportunities for advancement, such as a criminal investigator position with the Criminal Investigation Division, come into play as an officer’s career progresses.

Fayetteville Police Department

Criminal investigators with the Fayetteville Police Department work out of the Department’s Criminal Investigation Division, which is organized into three, distinct units:

  • Criminal Investigations Unit
  • Special Investigations Unit
  • Drug Task Force

Individuals with aspirations of working as a detective for the Fayetteville Police Department must first become a police officer with the Department and complete a 12-week Basic Police Training Course through the Arkansas Law Enforcement Training Academy.

Upon graduation from the Academy, police officers must complete a 16-week field training program.

After the completion the field training, new officers are assigned to a patrol shift and evaluated after their one-year probationary period has ended, at which time they may seek specialized assignments and serve as detectives.

Qualifying for Detective Jobs in Arkansas at the County Level

Criminal investigator jobs are also found at the county level in Arkansas, with some of the largest counties in the State conducting their criminal investigations through their respective sheriffs’ departments.

Pulaski County Sheriff’s Department

The Pulaski County Sheriff’s Department, Investigations Division provides professional investigative services throughout Pulaski County. Currently, this Division consists of two lieutenants and three sergeants, who are responsible for the Narcotics Unit, as well as the investigations of crimes against persons and property:

  • Crimes against Persons
    • Homicide
    • Suspicious death
    • Child abuse
    • Child exploitation
    • Family violence
    • Robbery
    • Sex crimes
    • Assault
    • Battery
  • Crimes against Property
    • Residential burglary
    • Commercial burglary
    • Forgery
    • Auto theft
    • Arson
    • Computer crime and theft

Benton County Sheriff’s Department

The Benton County’s Sheriff’s Department, Criminal Investigations Division is divided into two units; therefore, investigators work as either CID Investigators or Narcotics Investigators.

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