How to Become a Criminal Investigator in Idaho

Although Idaho has a low crime rate compared to the rest of the country, over 17,500 crimes against people were reported in 2012. Twenty-seven of these were murders. The majority—67%—were simple assaults.

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In contrast, the number of property crimes reported was much higher. Over 47,400 such crimes were reported in 2012. Forty-nine percent of these cases involved theft or larceny. Both violent and property crime rates dropped in 2012 as compared to 2011.

Criminal investigators in Idaho work at the state and local level. Detectives who work for the Idaho State Police assist local law enforcement agencies in investigating numerous crimes. They are part of the Office of Investigations and are assigned to District Offices around the state.

These criminal investigators focus primarily on violent crimes and drug enforcement. Additional areas of specialty include:

  • Crime scene investigations
  • Clandestine lab enforcement
  • Executive protection
  • Police integrity investigations
  • Polygraph services

Becoming a Criminal Investigator with the Idaho State Police

The first step to becoming a detective with the Idaho State Police is to become a state trooper. Troopers are eligible for promotion to become a detective.

Education and Experience Requirements:

A college education at the bachelor’s level is the standard qualification for those without prior work experience. This can be in any field, but criminal justice, law enforcement, crime scene investigations and forensic science are particularly good majors for prospective detectives.

Applicants without a college degree can qualify with at least two years of responsible work experience.

General qualifications include:

  • Being a U.S. citizen
  • Possessing a valid driver’s license
  • Having a high school diploma or GED
  • Fingerprint clearance by the state of Idaho and the FBI


  • Any of the following convictions:
    • Felony
    • Misdemeanor within five years of the application date
  • Having been decertified as a peace officer
  • Having any of the following military discharges:
    • OTH: Administrative discharge of other than honorable
    • DD: Dishonorable discharge
    • BCD: Bad conduct discharge
  • Not meeting the requirements of the drug policy of the Idaho State Police
  • Having been fired with just cause for any of the following:
    • Committing any form of illegal harassment
    • Drug or alcohol use that negatively affected job performance
    • Falsification of time reporting
    • Misuse of department or company finances
    • Sick leave abuse
    • Theft of company property

POST Certification and New Recruit Training:

Required POST standards include meeting:

  • Drug policy requirements
  • Medical, vision, and hearing requirements
  • Testing for physical fitness

The first step towards POST Certification is pre-academy training. The state of Idaho has made this training available online through the POST Distance Learning Portal on the Idaho POST website.

After the student completes the training and passes the tests, the state provides a completion certificate. Recruits must bring this certificate to their first day at the basic academy. They will then be given an exam to ensure they have mastered the materials.

Recruits must then complete the ten-week basic academy to become state troopers. This training provides the practical skills and knowledge base to become a patrol officer. Once this training is complete, cadets are eligible to obtain their POST certification.

Specialized Investigative Units Within the Idaho State Police

The Office of Investigations has identified common types of criminal conduct in Idaho and developed special programs to address them.

Crime Scene Response Unit – Detectives assist local law enforcement agencies with the processing of crime scenes. The amount of aid depends on the needs of the agency and can include the following:

  • Crime scene processing
  • Crime scene processing and assistance to local law enforcement officers
  • Working the investigation to its completion

Marijuana Eradication Program – Marijuana production in Idaho has become a serious problem, particularly on public lands in the state. The Idaho State Police developed their marijuana eradication program in conjunction with the following agencies:

  • The Bureau of Land Management
  • The Drug Enforcement Administration
  • The United States Forest Service

A key part of this program is its round the clock toll-free hot line that enables Idaho citizens to anonymously leave information.

Methamphetamine Initiative –The problem of meth production in Idaho became particularly acute in the 1990s leading to an initiative from Governor Kempthorne to combat the problem. The Idaho State Police are uniquely poised to lead the state’s methamphetamine initiative for the following reasons:

  • Their provision of high quality law enforcement training
  • Their ability to identify and seize clandestine meth labs and take the operators into custody
  • Their ability to discover and seize meth moving along the state’s highways
  • Their ability to analyze the physical evidence

In 1999 alone, this unit dismantled 171 meth labs at a cost of over $530,000.

Idaho’s Municipal and County Criminal Investigation Divisions

Many of the municipal and county law enforcement agencies in Idaho have specialized divisions for their criminal investigators. Some of the larger criminal investigative divisions include:

  • Boise Police Department Criminal Investigation Division
  • Nampa Police Department Criminal Investigations Division
  • Twin Falls Police Department Criminal Investigation Division
  • Chubbuck Police Department Criminal Investigations Division
  • Idaho Falls Police Detectives Division
  • Fort Hall Police Department Criminal Investigation Division
  • Pocatello Police Department Investigations Division
  • Canyon County Sheriff’s Office Criminal Investigations Department
  • Bonner County Sheriff’s Office Detective Division
  • Sandpoint City Police Department Criminal Investigation Division

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