How to Become a Criminal Investigator with the Atlanta
Police Department

Despite the common perception of Atlanta being a high crime city, the violent crime rate has been dropping dramatically. The city had the second lowest number of homicides in fifty years in 2012. The frequency of rape also decreased by 24% that year.

Some of this drop in crime is attributed to the Atlanta Police Department’s aggressiveness in investigating crimes in the city. Also, prosecutors have been making strenuous efforts to keep repeat offenders behind bars.

Detectives with the Atlanta Police Department’s Criminal Investigation Division investigate most of the cases of violent and property crime in Atlanta through its Major Crimes Section.

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Becoming a Detective with the Atlanta PD Criminal Investigation Division

The first step to becoming a criminal investigator in Atlanta is to join the Atlanta Police Department (APD). From there, selected police officers are promoted to become detectives.

Degree Options and Initial Requirements:

The basic educational requirement to join the APD is to have a high school education. Typically, openings for police officer jobs in the city receive a large number of applicants. Having a degree in law enforcement, criminal justice, or police science can help applicants to stand out when they apply for these positions.

General requirements include:

  • Documentation of being a naturalized or U.S. citizen
  • Being at least 20.5 years old
  • Valid driver’s license
  • Honorable or uncharacterized discharge (if applicable)
  • Excellent vision:
    • At least 20/100 uncorrected
    • Correctable to 20/20 (Contact lenses, glasses, surgery)

Disqualifying Conditions:

  • Any of the following convictions:

    • Felony (including expunged)
    • Domestic violence
    • Larceny or theft over $500
    • Vehicular homicide
    • Hit and run
    • DUI or alcohol/drug within 3 years of the application date
    • 5 or more moving violations
  • Pending traffic or criminal charges
  • Circumstances that would prevent legal possession of a firearm
  • Refusing to take the blood alcohol content test
  • Currently being on parole or probation
  • Having one of the following driving histories:

    • 3 or more chargeable traffic accidents within 5 years of the application date
    • Currently suspended, expired, or revoked driver’s license

Application Process:

Prospective police officers that meet the requirements and do not have any disqualifying circumstances can apply online or download a paper application. If applicable, the following documents must be provided with the application:

  • DD214 showing honorable discharge
  • Documents of name change (Marriage License, Court Order)
  • Sealed certified college transcripts
  • Copy of discharge papers for bankruptcy

Documents Required Before and After the Written Examinations:

To be able to take the department’s written examinations, applicants must provide a copy of their current driver’s license. They must then submit the following documents within ten days of having taken the written exams:

  • Copies of the following:

    • Proof of high school education (diploma, GED certificate, certified transcripts)
    • Birth certificate
    • Driver’s license
  • Two passport style photographs
  • Employment history from the Social Security Administration (15 years)
  • Original DMV records fro the past 7 years for every state in which the applicant has had a valid driver’s license

Some of the steps involved in being chosen to become an APD officer include the following:

  • Cognitive skills examination
  • Assessment of personality
  • Medical examination

New Recruit Training:

Once hired, new recruits spend 22 weeks at the Atlanta Police Academy. In addition to classroom study, recruits have to pass a physical obstacle course in 1:40 and qualify to use firearms. Once they have graduated from the academy, new officers take part in 12 weeks of field training. Atlanta police officers must be recertified to use firearms each year.

The quality of the APD’s training program has been recognized by the U.S. State Department that honored the department in 2013. The agency had sent two police officers to Timor-Leste for six months to help develop a training curriculum and assistance in training the police officers in that country.

Advanced Training:

Selected officers receive advanced training in a program established by the Atlanta Police Foundation. They receive specialized training in such areas as advanced techniques for crime fighting or leadership. The Foundation has provided funds to help buy such advanced equipment as a shoot/don’t shoot simulator for tactical training.

The Atlanta Police Department’s Major Crime Section

Police officers who have been promoted to detectives work out of the Major Crimes Section. Some of its specialized units are described below.

Homicide Unit – In addition to investigating both cold case and current homicide cases, the detectives in this unit also investigate the following situations:

  • Deaths in custody
  • Kidnappings
  • Police-involved shootings

Special Victims Unit – The SVU detectives specialize in investigating the following types of crimes:

  • Child abuse
  • Child exploitation
  • Child neglect
  • Missing juveniles
  • Rape and other sexual assaults

Fugitive Unit – This unit assists the whole department in apprehending serial and/or violent offenders with outstanding warrants. The members of the unit participate in the following task forces that operate in the Atlanta area:

  • FBI’s Atlanta Metropolitan Major Offenders Task Force
  • U.S. Marshal’s South East Regional Fugitive Task Force

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