How to Become a Criminal Investigator in Florida

According to the Florida Statistical Analysis Center, in 2013 there was:

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  • One violent crime committed every 6 minutes
  • One property crime committed every 52 seconds
  • One burglary committed every 3 minutes
  • One aggravated assault committed every 9 minutes

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement also reported that, in 2013, there were:

  • 904,634 arrests
  • 970 murders
  • 9,863 forcible sexual offenses
  • 23,176 robberies
  • 57,694 aggravated assaults
  • 138,669 burglaries

Total offenses during this period were 698,607, a decrease from 725,987 in 2012.

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE), which was established in 1967, employs about 1,700 members statewide and has an annual budget of more than $300 million. The FDLE houses the state’s Criminal Investigations and Forensic Science Unit, which is responsible for investigating and resolving many of the most serious crimes committed in Florida each year.

Becoming a Detective in Florida with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement

Individuals who want to work as detectives with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement typically begin by serving as Florida state troopers, where they gain invaluable experience serving as law enforcement officers at the State level.

To become a Florida State police trooper, applicants must be at least 19 years old and must have at least ONE of the following:

  • At least one year of law enforcement experience
  • At least two years of public contact experience
  • At least two years of continuous and active U.S. military service
  • At least 30 semester credit hours (45 quarter hours) of college study from an accredited college or university

Candidates without prior military or professional experience, but with aspirations of becoming detectives, often choose to complete a formal degree program in an area related to criminal investigations:

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

Recruits must complete a specific course of training, which includes completing a basic recruiter program at an accredited Commission-certified training school and then successfully complete the State Officer Certification Exam (SOCE).

The SOCE is administered about 3 to 4 times a year in locations throughout Florida. A list of upcoming dates and other relevant information regarding the examination can be found here.

Troopers with at least two years of experience are eligible to apply for specialty positions in areas such as criminal investigations. Further, upon completion of at least 5 years of experience, troopers are eligible to be promoted to supervisory positions.

Criminal investigators with the FDLE, commonly referred to as FDLE special agents, serve as sworn officers who have statewide authority to investigate and enforce the criminal laws in Florida. The services provided by FDLE special agents include:

  • Assisting in locating missing children
  • Collecting and disseminating criminal intelligence information
  • Dismantling drug trafficking organizations
  • Enhancing domestic security preparedness
  • Identifying and investigating organized and multi-jurisdictional crimes
  • Investigating public corruption
  • Providing protective services to Florida’s Governor and other dignitaries
  • Seizing illegal assets

All FDLE special agents must be willing to accept an assignment anywhere in the State of Florida.

Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Investigations and Forensic Science Program

The Investigations and Forensic Science (IFS) program is the investigative arm of the FDLE. The criminal investigators of the IFS program are responsible for conducting independent and multi-jurisdictional investigations and partnering with state, local, and federal authorities. The criminal investigators of the IFS program focus on five areas:

  • Violent crime
  • Fraud/economic crime
  • Major drugs
  • Domestic security
  • Public integrity

The investigative services of the FDLE are delivered via the Department’s 7 regional operations centers and 14 field offices. The FDLE, through the IFS, also gathers and shares information with other law enforcement agencies in Florida through the Florida Fusion Center and administers the Florida Mutual Aid Plan, which coordinates state and local law enforcement response services during a declared state of emergency.

Becoming a Detective at the City and County Level in Florida

Individuals interested in becoming detectives in Florida may also find professional opportunities at the city or county level. The largest municipal and county criminal investigations divisions include:

  • Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, Investigations Division
  • Miami Police Department, Criminal Investigations
  • Tampa Police Department, Criminal Intelligence Bureau
  • St. Petersburg Police Department, Investigative Services Bureau
  • Orlando Police Department, Investigative Services Bureau
  • Hialeah Police Department, Criminal Investigations Division
  • Tallahassee Police Department, Investigations
  • Fort Lauderdale Police Department, Investigative Bureau
  • Miami-Dade Police Department, Criminal Investigations
  • Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, Criminal Investigations
  • Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office, Investigative Operations
  • Orange County Sheriff’s Office, Criminal Investigation Division
  • Broward County Sheriff’s Office, Criminal Investigations Division

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