How to Become a Criminal Investigator with the Athens-Clarke County Police Department

According to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, five murders were committed in Clarke County in 2012. There were also 256 assaults, 254 vehicle thefts and 3,470 cases of larceny that year.

Detectives of the Athens-Clarke County Police Department perform the follow-up investigations for crimes committed within the county. This department is highly regarded for its innovative policing.

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Steps to Becoming a Detective with the Athens-Clarke County PD

Those interested in becoming a detective with the Athens-Clarke County Police Department must start by serving as patrol officers. Those who show aptitude for conducting investigations will be promoted to the Centralized Criminal Investigations Division.

Meeting Requirements – A high school diploma meets the education requirements of the Athens-Clarke County Police Department. Applicants are also expected to have a great deal of knowledge specific to law enforcement techniques and procedures.

One way to obtain this specialized knowledge is to obtain an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in police science or criminal justice.

The Athens-Clarke County Police Department offers incentive pay to officers with a college degree:

  • An associate’s degree can result in an extra $1,200 a year
  • A bachelor’s degree can result in an extra $2,400 a year

Veterans with 2-4 years of active service are also eligible for increased salaries.

Basic requirements include:

  • Being at least 21 years old
  • Having a valid driver’s license
  • Being a U.S. citizen
  • Not having any felony convictions
  • Being able to obtain Georgia POST certification

Application Process – Applicants must submit both an employment application and a public safety questionnaire. These documents can be obtained on the Athens-Clarke County career website.

The steps involved in becoming a police officer in Georgia involves undergoing a background check, being fingerprinted, and then undergoing a physical fitness assessment. This test involves the following steps that are shown in order along with their minimum passing standard:

  • Vertical jump test:  14.0 inches
  • Sit-ups:  29
  • 300 meter run:  71.5 seconds
  • Push-ups:  22
  • 1.5 mile run:  17.03 minutes

After passing this assessment, applicants must complete an entrance exam.

New Recruit Training – Those selected to become police officers for the Athens-Clarke County Police Department first attend the Georgia Police Academy for 10 weeks. The Georgia Public Safety Training Center offers basic police officer training eight times a year in Athens. This ranges from academic coursework to learning how to use a variety of firearms.

Candidates continue their training within the department. Its Career Development and Training Unit oversees an eight week long New Officer Basic Course. This is followed by 15 weeks in the Police Training Officer Program.

New police officers serve a one year probationary period before being eligible for criminal investigator jobs.

The Athens-Clarke County Police Department Centralized Criminal Investigations Division

Detectives in Clarke County specialize in investigating particular types of crimes. The Centralized Criminal Investigations Division has four units that are described below.

Robbery, Homicide, and Forensics – Three detectives investigate all felony crimes against people except for sex crimes. The type of cases they investigate include:

  • Aggravated assault
  • Armed robbery
  • Murder
  • Robbery
  • Terroristic threats

In addition, three detectives work with a sergeant to process crimes scenes. As part of the Automated Fingerprint Identification Search (AFIS) unit, they are able to compare latent prints from crimes scenes to known prints of offenders.

Auto Theft/Arson – Two detectives in this unit work on arson cases, while two others investigate all thefts involving automobiles. This includes the theft of tires and car break-ins. These detectives share information with other agencies as part of the Georgia Auto Theft Intelligence Council.

Domestic Violence, Sex Crimes, and Financial Crimes – Six investigators follow up on all domestic violence reports and cases. Three people investigate all sex crimes against adults and children, including the following:

  • Attempted rapes
  • Rapes
  • Child abuse
  • Child molestation
  • Indecent exposures
  • Peeping toms
  • Stalking

The department uses a program called Sexual Assault Nurses Examiner (SANE) when investigating sexual assault cases.

Three forgery detectives work financial crimes of the following types:

  • Embezzlement
  • Financial transaction fraud/card theft
  • Forgery
  • Identity theft

Drug Enforcement – Two sergeants and four detectives comprise this unit. They investigate drug cases that range from long-term federal cases to street sales. These criminal investigators also have responsibility for cases of commercial gambling and prostitution.

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