How to Become a Criminal Investigator with the St. Petersburg
Police Department

In spite of its beautiful location, the overall crime rate in St. Petersburg (497.6) is considerably higher than the national average (301.1). Detectives with the St. Petersburg Police Department contend with 15 murders, 94 rapes and 8,642 thefts for every 100,000 people. The department’s Investigative Services Bureau handles investigations into the most serious and violent crimes that take place in the city.

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Becoming a Detective with the St. Petersburg Police Department

New hires with the St. Petersburg Police Department must work as uniformed patrol officers until being allowed to become detectives and apply for a specialized unit like the Investigative Services Bureau. There are very specific requirements for qualifying to apply for an officer job in St. Petersburg.

The annual starting salary with the St. Petersburg Police Department is:

  • $37,107 to $44,488
  • After two years-$49,296
  • After 10 years-$62,748 to $67,211

Officers promoted to Sergeant earn $69,782 to $82,448; Lieutenant $82,500 to $95,779.

Education and Experience Requirements – Candidates with the St. Petersburg Police Department are required to have at least 60 semester hours from an accredited college or university OR30 semester hours college credit and EITHER two years full-time law enforcement experience OR three years military service. T

he 30 semester hours can be shortened or eliminated if the candidate successfully passes PERT (Postsecondary Educational Readiness Test).

Individuals planning to become criminal investigators would be wise to have at least an associate’s degree and preferably a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice, law enforcement, forensics or a related subject.

Satisfying the Basic Requirements – The other basic qualifications for eligibility are:

  • Valid driver’s license
  • U.S. citizen at least 21 years old
  • Good physical and mental health
  • Good moral character
  • Live within 60 miles of headquarters
  • No felony convictions or misdemeanor convictions involving false statements or immorality
  • No military dishonorable discharge
  • No illegal drug use

Hiring process – Candidates whose applications are accepted must successfully complete the following steps in the hiring process:

  • Polygraph examination
  • Psych evaluation (written test and interview)
  • Physical agility test (described at police website)
  • Medical exam and drug screening
  • Background investigation

Training – New recruits must graduate from either the Pinelles or the Hillsborough County Police Academy. The time spent at the academy is determined by the recruit’s experience and education. Topics covered in training include:

  • Florida criminal law
  • Rules of evidence
  • Laws of arrest
  • Human relations
  • Search and seizure
  • Sex crimes
  • Accident investigation
  • Defense tactics
  • First aid
  • Firearms training
  • Human diversity

After graduating from the police academy new recruits spend four to six weeks in the Field Training Office Program (FTOP) where they learn to apply the skills and knowledge they learned in training. On completion of the FTOP new officers are assigned to the uniformed patrol division on a probationary basis. After two satisfactory years with uniformed patrol, officers may apply for specialized bureaus, including criminal investigation.

Organization of the St. Petersburg Police Investigative Services Bureau

The St. Petersburg Police Department Investigative Services Bureau is comprised of the following Units:

  • Career Offender Tracking and Apprehension (COTA) – The mission of this newest unit is to reduce crime by analyzing, tracking and apprehending habitual career offenders.
  • Crime Analysis, Surveillance and Enforcement Unit (CASD) – Uses the most advanced crime analysis techniques, surveillance tools and covert investigations to monitor crime patterns of habitual offenders.
  • Crimes Against Persons Unit – Investigates homicides, rapes, assaults, etc.
  • Crimes Against Property Unit – Handles robberies, economic crimes, etc.
  • Forensics Services Unit – Staffed by CSIs who investigate crime scenes – has fully equipped mobile forensics lab.
  • Narcotics Unit – Investigates drug trafficking operations.

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