How to Become a Criminal Investigator with the Oakland
Police Department

As the third largest city in the Bay Area, Oakland has a large and well-established police department, which includes a Criminal Investigations Division comprised of 117 officers and civilian staff members.

As of 2012, the Oakland Police Department’s Criminal Investigations Division had an authorized deficit of 6 vacancies, indicating growing opportunities for individuals interested in working in criminal investigations in Oakland.

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How to Become a Detective with the Oakland Police Department

Individuals who want to work as detectives for the Oakland Police Department’s Criminal Investigation Division must first become police officers.

Joining the Oakland PD – To become a police officer, applicants must be at least 21 years old (at the time of Academy graduation); they must be a United States citizen; they must have no felony convictions; and they must possess a California driver’s license.

The selection process for entry-level police officer jobs includes:

  • Physical ability test
  • POST written multiple-choice examination (more information can be found here)
  • Oral interview
  • Background investigation, which includes a polygraph examination
  • Psychological evaluation
  • Medical examination

The City of Oakland provides applicants with a number of ways to prepare for employment, including workshops, seminars, and practice tests.

Applicants can apply for police officer jobs by visiting the City of Oakland’s Employment Opportunities page.

If the Police Department is not currently hiring entry-level police officers, individuals may complete a job interest form to receive an email notification when the Department begins the recruitment process.

New hires with the Oakland Police Department must complete the Oakland Police Department’s Academy, a 26-week course that is delivered at the Police Administration Building in Oakland. Just a few of the topics covered during the training period include:

  • Firearms
  • Criminal law
  • Arrest and control techniques
  • First aid
  • Traffic enforcement
  • Vehicle operations

Promotional Opportunities – All new police officers are expected to complete at least 2 years on patrol before they can request a transfer to a specialized unit, such as criminal investigations.

candidates may cosider completing a formal degree program (associate’s or bachelor’s) so as to best position themselves for these advanced positions. Typical areas of study commonly sought by law enforcement professionals in criminal investigations include:

  • Criminology
  • Criminal justice
  • Justice administration
  • Sociology

Specialized Sections within the Oakland PD Criminal Investigations Division

The Oakland Police Department’s Criminal Investigations Division is divided into five sections:

  • Felony Assault/Gang Section
    • Felony Assault Unit
    • Ceasefire Unit
    • Gang Unit
  • Homicide Section
    • Homicide Intel Officers
    • OIS/In-Custody Death and Level I Investigations (officer-involved shooting, in-custody shootings, and use-of-force deaths)
    • Cold Case Unit
  • Robbery/Burglary Section
    • Robbery Unit
    • Burglary Unit
  • Special Victims Section
    • Domestic Violence/Elderly Abuse Unit
    • ID/Photo Lab Unit
    • Juvenile Intake Unit
    • Missing Persons Unit
    • Special Victims Unit
    • Vice/Child Exploitation Unit
  • Theft/Field Support Section
    • Theft Unit
    • Field Support Unit

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