How to Become a Criminal Investigator in Des Moines
Police Department

The nucleus of all criminal investigations in Des Moines is the Police Department’s Detective Bureau. The bureau serves three main functions:

  1. To generate preliminary investigations
  2. Follow-up on all ongoing investigations
  3. Prepare criminal cases for court prosecution
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Investigators that work in the Detective Bureau develop their investigative skills through training and experience to better serve specialized units within the bureau:

  • Crimes Against Persons
  • Crimes Against Property
  • Family Conflict
  • Identification
  • Intelligence
  • Narcotics/Vice

Qualifying to Become a Detective with the Des Moines Detective Bureau

According to the Des Moines Department of Human Resources, in order to qualify for police detective jobs, candidates must have two years of experience working as a police officer or senior police office with the Des Moines Police Department.

Basic job requirements needed to become a police officer include:

  • High school diploma or GED
  • Valid state driver’s license
  • Minimum age of twenty-one years
  • United States citizenship
  • No drug or alcohol addiction
  • No felony convictions, including crimes of moral turpitude

Education Standards for Detectives Although Des Moines Police Department only requires job candidates to have a high school diploma or GED, the majority of detectives and criminal investigators in the state hold a college degree. The Iowa Department of Workforce Development reports that detectives and criminal investigators between the ages of twenty-two and forty-four that are currently employed hold the following degree levels:

  • Associate’s Degree—13.3%
  • Bachelor’s Degree—40.9%
  • Master’s Degree—10.8%
  • Doctorate Degree—2.2%

Undergraduate and Graduate Degrees Since over 60% of detectives and criminal investigators working in Iowa have a post-secondary degree, students interested in these professions are encouraged stay competitive in the job market by earning an academic degree. In general, students are advised to select a degree program that directly correlates to law enforcement disciplines. These types of degrees offered in Iowa include:

  • Associate of Science in Criminal Justice
  • Associate of Arts in Law Enforcement
  • Bachelor of Science in Legal Studies
  • Bachelor of Arts in Criminalistics
  • Master of Science in Administration of Justice and Security

Investigative Units within the Des Moines Detective Bureau

Crimes Against Persons: Detectives in the Crimes Against Persons Unit are responsible for handling the most violent crimes committed in Des Moines. These crimes include homicides, suicides, robbery, assaults, terrorism, stalking, weapons charges, and hate crimes.

Crimes Against Property: Detectives in the Crimes Against Property Unit are responsible for the largest volume of casework in the Detective Bureau. This unit consists of five major sub sections. These sections include general assignment, property recovery, special assignment, pawn, and fire/arson investigations.

Family Conflict: Detectives in the Family Conflict Unit are responsible for handling crimes that involve sexual abuse and child trauma. Cases in this unit include instances of child exploitation, obscene internet communications, sexual assaults and child abuse. This unit also promotes victim advocacy programs.

Identification: Detectives in the Identification Unit are responsible for the 24/7 forensic analysis of crime scene evidence. Some detectives in this unit have specialized skills in blood spatter interpretation, forensic archeology, and forensic entomology. This unit processes approximately 12,000 crime scenes each year.

Intelligence: Detectives in the Intelligence Unit are responsible for collecting, organizing, distributing, and preserving crime-related information. This unit often targets groups with a history of inciting violent crimes. These groups include street gangs, organized supremacists, and suspicious cults.

Narcotics/Vice: Detectives in the Narcotics/Vice Unit are responsible for handling crimes involving illegal drug operations and vice-related criminal activities. These activities typical pertain to prostitution, gambling, bookmaking, and alcohol violations. This units also manages uncover operations and informant systems.

2012 Crime Statistics for Des Moines

Recent reports for 2012 reveal the crime rate in Des Moines was 400.4, which was higher than the national crime rate of 300.0 in that year. However, according to the Des Moines Police Department Annual Report 2012, the Detective Bureau was credited with solving a large percentage of murder and aggravated assault cases despite the high crime rate. Percentages of solved crime statistics from that year include:

  • Aggravated Assault—77.5%
  • Murder—70.0%
  • Rape—42.5%
  • Robbery—32.9%
  • Theft—22.6%
  • Auto Theft—15.6%
  • Burglary—12.1%

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