Fort Smith is the second largest city in Arkansas, with a population of 86,209, as of 2010. It is also part of the larger Fort Smith metropolitan statistical area, which has a population of nearly 299,000.
Criminal activity in Fort Smith reported by the Fort Smith Police Department included 5,800 incidences in 2012, an increase from 5,600 in 2011.
Although from 2009 to 2011, there were five homicides in Fort Smith, in 2012 alone there were seven. This increase in criminal activity highlights the importance of the Fort Smith Police Department’s Criminal Investigation Division in solving serious crimes and bringing perpetrators to justice.
How to Become a Criminal Investigator in the Fort Smith Police Department
The first step to becoming a criminal investigator with the Fort Smith Police Department usually starts with working as a police officer with the Department.
To become a Fort Smith police officer, individuals must be able to meet the minimum requirements for employment (as required by the Arkansas Commission on Law Enforcement Standards and Training) and complete a comprehensive employment process.
The employment process includes the following:
- Completion of the civil service written examination (date and times are included with the application packet)
- Completion of the physical agility test (date and times are included with the application packet)
- Background investigation
- Police review board/oral interview
- Civil service board/oral interview
Applicants must receive a minimum score of 70 percent on all of the above, and all scores are combined to determine an applicant’s final placement on the hiring list. Police officers are then hired from the hiring list. Additional information can be obtained by contacting the Recruiting Coordinator at Recruiting@FortSmithPD.org.
Applications for police officers are usually made available once a year, or more often as needed. Candidates should check the Fort Smith Police Department website for upcoming recruitment dates.
Benefits of a College Degree when Becoming a Fort Smith Police Officer
Although the completion of a post-secondary degree is not required to become a Fort Smith Police officer, the Department encourages the completion of a formal degree program by offering educational incentives for officers who possess college degrees. These incentives include:
- Associate’s degree: 3 percent of base salary
- Bachelor’s degree: 6 percent of base salary
- Master’s degree: 7 percent of base salary
Police officers with the Department may also enjoy additional promotional opportunities with the completion of formal degree program. Police officers must complete at least 3 years with the Department to qualify for criminal investigator jobs. Typical majors pursued by individuals in criminal investigations include:
- Criminal justice
- Justice administration
- Police science
Detective Division within the Fort Smith Police Department
The Detective Division of the Fort Smith Police Department consists of 6, separate units, which include:
- Crimes Against Persons Unit: Rapes, homicides, assaults, etc.
- Crimes Against Properties Unit: Burglaries, thefts, arson, etc.
- Special Investigations Unit: Includes the following:
- Cyber investigation unit
- Juvenile and family violence unit
- Identification Unit: Responsible for processing evidence
- Narcotic Unit: Responsible for conducting investigations regarding the possession, sale, or manufacture of controlled substances
- Street Crimes Unit: A special investigatory unit that investigates crimes such as prostitution, patronizing prostitutes, and loitering for sexual activity in city parks