How to Become a Criminal Investigator with the Washington D.C. Metropolitan Police Department

Criminal investigators in Washington D.C. work through the Metropolitan Police Department, which reported 104 homicides in 2013, an increase from 88 in 2012.

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The Federal Bureau of Investigation reported that, in 2012, there were 36,762 incidences of crime in Washington, an increase from 34,655 in 2011. The reported incidences of crime in 2012 broke down as follows:

  • Homicide: 88
  • Forcible rape: 236
  • Robbery: 3,725
  • Aggravated assault: 3,399
  • Burglary: 3,519
  • Larceny/theft: 22,196
  • Stolen vehicles: 3,549
  • Arson: 50

Becoming a Detective with the Washington, DC Metropolitan Police Department

To become a detective with the Metropolitan Police Department in Washington D.C., interested candidates must first become police officers with the Department. This requires applicants to be at least 21 years old and able to pass a written test, physical ability test, and medical examination, which includes a polygraph examination.

In addition, candidates must demonstrate at least ONE of the following:

  • Successful completion at least 60 semester college credits in any major
  • Service in the U.S. Armed Forces for at least three years in an active-duty capacity
  • Service for at least 5 years as a full-time police officer with a municipality or state agency

Candidates without a military or law enforcement background who complete at least 60 semester hour college credits (equivalent to 2 years of full-time study) often study a field related to the profession, such as:

  • Criminal justice
  • Sociology
  • Criminology
  • Public administration
  • Justice administration
  • Forensic psychology

All police officers appointed to the Metropolitan Police Department must agree to serve with the Department for at least two years upon completion of the Department’s training program.

To become a detective with the Metropolitan Police Department and hold the designation of Detective II, officers must have completed their initial two years of service and successfully completed a training and evaluation phase, during which time they are considered investigators.

Detectives may hold the designation of Detective I if they have completed 7 years of service, 5 of which were as a Detective II.

Investigative Divisions within the Metropolitan Police Department

As of 2012, the Washington D.C.’s Metropolitan Police Department had about 3,800 sworn officers, making it one of the largest police forces in the country. The Metropolitan Police Department is the primary law enforcement agency serving Washington D.C.

Although it serves as a local police department, it operates under Federal authority; just a few of its federal duties include protecting the President and members of Congress and approving all public events, including Presidential motorcades, protests or demonstrations, that take place throughout the District.

The Metropolitan Police Department is organized into 6 bureaus, one of which is the Investigative Services Bureau, which is responsible for investigating all violent crimes, narcotics crimes, and property crimes in the District. The Investigative Services Bureau is the organized into a number of divisions, which include:

  • Criminal Investigations Division
    • Homicide branch
    • Special Investigations branch
    • Victim Services branch
    • District Investigations Branch

  • Youth Investigations Division
    • Internet Crimes Against Children branch
    • Physical and Sexual Abuse branch
    • Missing Persons branch
    • Absconder branch
    • Juvenile Processing branch
    • Youth Intervention and Prevention branch

  • Narcotics and Special Investigations Division
    • Major Case branch
    • Gun Recovery branch
    • Support branch

  • Crime Scene Investigations Division
    • Evidence and Documents Operations branch
    • Crime Scene Response Teams
    • Vehicle and Specialized Processing branch
    • Training and Crime Scene Search Liaison
    • Firearms and Toolmark Examination branch

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