How to Become a Criminal Investigator with the Columbus
Police Department

Police officers in Columbus arrested over 12,300 people in 2013—a 3.2% drop from 2012. Twenty two cases of murder or manslaughter were reported in 2013. This was an increase of over 29% from the number reported in 2012.

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The numbers of nearly all of the serious crimes reported to the FBI increased during this time period with the exception of aggravated assaults. Their numbers decreased by 8.1%

Criminal investigators for the Columbus Police Department (CPD) investigated a number of these crimes, and the department’s Bureau of Investigative Services provides specialized investigative services ranging from homicides to burglaries.

Steps to Becoming a Detective in Columbus

The first step to becoming a criminal investigator for the CPD is to join the force as a police officer. Selected officers are promoted to become specialized detectives.

Meeting Requirements:

A high school education is all that is required to become a Columbus police officer. However, applicants are expected to be knowledgeable about the practices, procedures, and modern principles of law enforcement to obtain these jobs. One way to obtain that knowledge is to get an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in law enforcement or criminal justice.

Other general requirements include:

  • Being at least 21 years old
  • Being a U.S. citizen
  • Valid driver’s license from any state
  • Not having been dishonorably discharged from the military
  • Not having sold or distributed an illegal substance
    • At all as an adult
    • A significant amount as a juvenile
  • Not having one of the following convictions:
    • Felony
    • Family violence
    • Misdemeanors within 3 years of the application date
  • Not having the following drug use:
    • Marijuana within 2 years of the application date
    • Heroin, LSD, Ecstasy within 10 years of this date
    • Illegal steroids within 3 years of this date

Required Knowledge:

  • Local, state, and federal laws, administrative polices, and ordinances
  • Layout of Columbus
  • Department rules and regulations
  • Defensive tactics and use of force

Required Skills:

  • Driving: high-speed or defensive
  • Operating standard office equipment
  • Operating computers and software programs
  • Specialized weapons, tools, and equipment:
    • ASP baton
    • Pepper ball gun
    • Pepper spray
    • Pistol
    • Shotgun

Application Process:

This can take over three months and includes the following steps:

  • Physical agility test (two attempts allowed)
    • Sit-ups
    • Push-ups
    • 1 mile run
    • Obstacle course
  • State examination
  • Background check
  • Polygraph test
  • Psychological exam
  • Interviews:
    • Personnel directors
    • Command staff

Applicants who pass all of these steps will be hired as police officers.


New recruits obtain their training at the state mandated Police Academy. The Georgia Public Safety Training Center has a campus in Columbus that offers basic police officer training four times a year. This involves 408 hours of training.

The Columbus campus also offers a number of advanced courses to train police officers as they advance in their careers. Courses that are specialized for detective work include the following:

  • Crime scene investigations
  • Criminal investigative analysis
  • Criminal investigation fundamentals
  • Financial investigation fundamentals
  • Homicide investigations
  • Introduction to cybercrime investigations
  • Sexual assault investigations

Specialized Investigative Divisions of the Columbus Police Department

Homicides – Detectives from the Homicide Division investigate both current and older high profile cases, along with long-term criminal and suspicious deaths. The Robbery/Assault/Homicide Division investigates more routine homicides.

Special Operations Division – These detectives investigate crimes that involve the following types of activities:

  • ABC violations
  • Gambling
  • Narcotics
  • Prostitution
  • Trafficking

Burglary/Theft Division – Criminal investigators in this division handle property crimes, including burglaries and other types of thefts. It has a specialized Pawn Shop Detail that check items in pawn shops to see if they are stolen. These investigators also maintain a computerized database of all pawned articles.

Fraud Division – The two units in this division work closely with other Investigative Services divisions as well as with other agencies at the state, local, and federal level. The Motor Vehicle Theft unit recovers stolen vehicles, while the Financial/White Collar Crimes Unit investigates the improper use of documents and other types of white-collar crimes.

Youth Services Division – These detectives concentrate on the criminal activities of those younger than 17 years old. They also investigate missing persons reports for both adults and juveniles. This division has a specialized unit that investigates family violence.

Intelligence Division – The officers in this unit maintain a liaison with all homeland security agencies. They also disseminate intelligence to other intelligence units and law enforcement agencies.

Predator Apprehension Division – This Division is comprised of:

  • Sex Crimes Unit
  • Gang Task Force
  • Fugitive Squad
    • Outstanding warrants that originate from the CPD
    • Interstate and intrastate prisoner extraditions

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