How to Become a Criminal Investigator with the Portland
Police Department

The Portland Police Department is the largest municipal law enforcement agency in Maine, and is also the biggest employer of detectives in the city. There are currently 163 sworn officers, including detectives, employed with police department. According to the 2013 Annual Report, police officers and investigators successfully decreased the rate of violent crime in Portland by 28% between 2011 and 2013.

The report also boasted several other achievements in 2013. For instance, police officers and detectives worked collectively to:

  • Respond to 83,798 calls for service
  • Handle 65,561 R.C.C. 911 calls
  • Arrest 3,019 offenders
  • File 4,386 charges against offenders
  • Perform 9,502 motor vehicle stops
  • Issue 5,429 citations

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Becoming a Detective with the Portland Police Department

Civilians do not become detectives overnight. The Portland Police Department requires all investigators to undergo a two-year probationary period as a police officer before they are considered for specialty team detective jobs. The hiring process to become a police officer typically lasts between three and four months.

However, to even begin this process, job applicants must gain two years of employment experience after graduating high school, or an acceptable combination of education and employment that totals three years.

Candidates must also meet the following basic qualifications:

  • Must be a United States citizen
  • Must have a valid driver’s license
  • Must be in good physical health
  • Must provide evidence of normal vision and hearing abilities
  • Must meet the Maine Criminal Justice Academy’s standards

Tuition Reimbursement Opportunities for Detectives

To encourage college education among its employees, the Portland Police Department offers detectives a tuition reimbursement incentive program. The program offers 50% off undergraduate and graduate courses completed from a local state university. The department also offers a 15% discount on tuition vouchers for employees that attend a popular online school.

Degree options available for criminal justice students in Portland, Maine include:

  • Associate of Arts in Criminal Justice
  • Associate of Science in Justice Studies
  • Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice
  • Bachelor of Science in Forensic Psychology
  • Master of Science in Criminal Justice Administration

The Criminal Investigations Division

When detectives are hired in the Portland Police Department, they often work in the Criminal Investigations Division (CID). The CID is only one of three of its kind in the state that handles its own homicide investigations.

The sixteen detectives that currently operate within the Portland Police Department CID are mainly responsible for interviewing suspects, witnesses and victims involved in crimes committed in Portland.

These detectives are divided among four sections in the CID: Investigative Section, Street Reduction Unit, Forensic Services, Evidence and Court Services.

Investigative Section –Detectives in the Investigative Section handle two types of cases: Crimes Against People and Crimes Against Property. Major functions within this section include court preparation, conducting interviews, analyzing data, and executing follow-up investigations.

Street Reduction Unit –Detectives in the Street Reduction Unit concentrate on area crime trends that involve robbery, drug trafficking and burglary. Major functions within this section include identifying suspects, directing bail checks, and fielding crime tips.

Forensic Services – Detectives in Forensic Services are evidence technicians that gather and analyze crime scene evidence to identify offenders linked to crime. The major function of this section is to use scientific processes that will lead to arrests.

Evidence and Court Services – Detectives in Evidence and Court Services concentrate on maintaining all crime-related materials that become in the custody of the Portland Police Department. The major functions of this section include collecting, storing, returning and destroying case items.

Detectives on Specialty Teams within the Portland Police Department

Some detectives that are employed by the Portland Police Department are appointed to positions in the Specialty Teams Division. Detectives that are assigned to a specialty team handle cases that are unique in nature, in addition to their normal duties as a detective in the Criminal Investigations Division.

Detectives typically qualify for specialty team position through specialized training by the Maine Criminal Justice Academy. There are five specialty teams in the Portland Police Department:

  • Crisis Negotiation Team
  • Dive Team
  • Hazardous Devices Unit
  • K-9 Unit
  • Special Reaction Team

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