How to Become a Criminal Investigator with the Miami
Police Department

Even though Miami covers only 35.67 square miles, it has a population density of 12,143 residents per square mile. In comparison, Florida’s largest city, Jacksonville, has roughly twice as many people but a population density of only about 1,073/square mile.

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Many sociological studies list population density as an important factor affecting a city’s crime rate. Miami’s overall crime rate of 580.6 per 100,000 people (2012) is almost twice as high as the national average of 301.1. Although Miami’s crime rate is remains considerably higher than the average for all crime categories, the violent crime rate has been gradually declining over the last decade, dropping from 1,021.2 in 2000 to 602.5 in 2012 in spite of an increase in population. The officers who work for the Miami Police Department (MPD) are determined to continue this trend.

The Criminal Investigations Division is the primary investigative arm for major crimes like homicides, domestic violence, burglaries, child abductions, economic crimes, etc. The division is divided into several units (see below section on organization).

Becoming a Criminal Investigator with the Miami Police Department

Detectives who work for the criminal investigations division are chosen from the ranks of uniformed police officers. The MPD also hires civilian crime scene investigators (CSIs). The median annual salary for MPD police officers is $49,575 and $63,000 for criminal investigators.

Education Requirements – The Miami Police Department’s listed education requirement is a high school diploma or higher, however, anyone hoping to be promoted to the criminal investigations division should consider an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in criminal justice, criminology, crime scene investigations or a related subject.

Any previous law enforcement experience, including student internships or volunteer work, is a plus.

Civilian crime scene investigators are required to have a bachelor’s degree or better in forensics or a natural science plus several years’ experience investigating crime scenes.

Satisfying the Basic Requirements – Candidates for police officer jobs with the MPD must meet the following minimum requirements:

  • At least 19 years old
  • Citizen of the United States
  • Valid Florida driver’s license; no DUI convictions
  • No felony convictions
  • No misdemeanor convictions involving perjury or false statements
  • No military dishonorable discharge
  • Good physical condition; at least 20/50 eyesight without correction
  • Pass the FBAT test

The FBAT (Florida Basics Abilities Test) is regularly offered at Miami-Dade College. It covers written expression, reading comprehension, memorization, inductive/deductive reasoning, spatial orientation, problem solving and ability to follow orders. Visit the FBAT website for scheduling information and an online study guide

Hiring Process – . Individuals who satisfy the above requirements must successfully complete all of the following phases of the hiring process:

  • Physical abilities test consisting of push-ups, sit-ups, 1.5 mile run and a 300-meter sprint.
  • Stringent background investigation
  • Fingerprinting
  • Polygraph test
  • Toxicology screening
  • Medical examination

Training – Successful candidates are given a job offer contingent upon completion of the officer training program which involves six months of classroom and field training, Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Field work includes physical fitness, firearms and emergency vehicle driving training. Classroom studies cover a wide variety of subjects that prepare recruits for real-life situations on the job.

How to Apply – The Miami PD only accepts online applications for police officer positions. A list of open positions, online application forms and detailed instructions are available at the City of Miami Human Resources Department jobs website. Call the Miami PD (305-603-6640) for information about civilian CSI jobs.

Organization of the Miami Police Department Criminal Investigations Division

The Miami PD Criminal Investigations Division encompasses the following units:

Special Victims Unit – The focus is on crimes like sexual battery, sexually-related homicides, rape, child abuse, elder abuse and child exploitation. The detectives also monitor registered sexual predators.

Missing Persons Unit – Follows up on all missing persons cases with special attention given to endangered missing children.

Crime Scene Investigation Unit – The unit employs 20 civilian CSIs who are called to the scene of major crimes to collect, preserve and analyze crime scene evidence; photograph and sketch all aspects of the scene; analyze bullet trajectories; lift latent prints, etc. The unit has eight vans containing crime-scene analysis equipment as well as one mobile lab with exterior lighting and a wide variety of equipment to analyze extremely complex crime scenes.

Special Investigations Unit – Focuses on investigating a variety of special crimes, including money laundering, high-level narcotics trafficking, serious weapons violations and terrorism. The detectives work with many different multi-agency task forces such as the Joint Terrorism Task Force.

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