How to Become a Criminal Investigator with the Baltimore
Police Department

Most detective jobs in Baltimore Maryland are found within the Baltimore Police Department (BPD). Not only is the BPD the largest law enforcement agency in the state, it is also the eighth largest police department in the nation. The BPD currently employs a staff consisting of 3,000 sworn officers, with many of those officers working as criminal investigators.

The Baltimore Detective Division is the central division for criminal investigators within the Baltimore Police Department. Detectives that are assigned to this division are appointed to one of the division’s six sections:

  • Homicide Section
  • Escape and Apprehension Squad
  • Laboratory Section
  • District Investigations Section
  • Special Investigations Section

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How to Become a Detective in Baltimore

Only police officers with at least three years of field experience will be considered for promotional opportunities to become a detective. To encourage career advancement, the Baltimore Police Department offers specialized training in firearms, defense tactics, and basic criminal investigation to police officers interested in promotional opportunities.

Minimum Requirements – Also, unlike most police departments, the BPD holds recruitment events to actively seek new recruits. The minimum requirements needed to become a police officer include:

  • Must be a United States citizen
  • Must have a high school diploma or equivalent education
  • Must have a valid driver’s license
  • Must meet prior drug use restrictions
  • Must have no felony convictions
  • Must be 20 years and 9 nine months old at time of hire

Examination – Meeting all eligibility requirements does not ensure employment. Once a candidate’s application is accepted, the candidate must successfully pass an extensive list of examinations that test very aspect of a candidate’s ability to perform duties as a sworn officer. Only after the candidate completes all testing requirements are they formally reviewed and hired. Examinations included during the hiring process include:

  • Written assessment
  • Agility test
  • Written psychological examination
  • Background interview
  • Polygraph inspection
  • Psychological evaluation
  • Physical examination
  • Background investigation

College Degrees The Baltimore Police Department requires that newly recruited police officers have at least a high school diploma or equivalent level of education before they can qualify for employment. However, candidates that only fulfill minimum requirements are unlikely to stand apart from their competitors—especially if those competitors hold college degrees. According to the United States Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration, only 8.1% of all detectives and criminal investigators between 25 and 44 have a high school level of education. By comparison, over 60% of these professionals in the field hold a college degree:

  • Associate’s Degree — 13.3%
  • Bachelor’s Degree — 40.9%
  • Master’s Degree — 10.8%
  • Doctoral/Professional Degree — 2.2%

Units Within the Baltimore Police Department’s Detective Division

Homicide Section – Detectives that work in the Homicide Section investigate cases involving homicide, suspicious deaths, shooting involving police, in-custody deaths, stranger abductions, extortion, and public official intimidation. There are two units in the Homicide Section, the Operations Squad and the Cold Case Squad.

Escape and Apprehension Squad – Detectives that work in the Escape and Apprehension Squad investigate cases involving search warrants and wanted fugitives. This squad collaborates often with other local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies. There are two units in the Escape and Apprehension Squad, the Regional Warrant Apprehension Task Force and the Fugitive Unit.

Laboratory Section – Detectives that work in the Laboratory Section provide scientific analysis for cases within the Baltimore Police Department. There are four units in the Laboratory Section: Trace Analysis Unit, Drug Analysis Unit, Firearms Examination Unit, and Latent Print Unit.

District Investigations Section – Detectives that work in the District Investigations Section investigate cases that involve non-fatal shootings, burglaries, street robberies, and aggravated assaults. There are two units in the District Investigations Section, the Citywide Robbery Unit and the Sex Offender Registry Unit.

Special Investigations Section – Detectives that work in the Special Investigations Section investigate cases that involve arson, missing persons, sexual offenses, child abuse, white-collar crimes, and pawnshops. There are six units in the Special Investigations Section: Arson Unit, Missing Persons Unit, Sex Offense Unit, Child Abuse Unit, Check and Fraud Unit, and Pawnshop Unit.

Violent Crime Impact Division Another place where criminal investigators are centrally located in the Baltimore Police Department is the Violent Crime Impact Division. Detectives that assigned to this division target specific zones within the city where violent crimes occur most frequently. The division’s ultimate goal is to permanently eliminate the presence of identified violent offenders or violent organizations. The Violent Crime Impact Division consists of four major units:

  • Vice Unit
  • Regional Auto Theft Task Force
  • Gun Tracing Task Force
  • High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas Task Force

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