How to Become a Criminal Investigator with the Howard County Police Department

Detectives in Columbia, Maryland work in the Criminal Investigations Bureau of the Howard County Police Department. This bureau is responsible for virtually all criminal investigations and victim advocacy programs in Howard County.

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At present, the Criminal Investigations Bureau consists of three major divisions:

  • Criminal Investigations Division
  • Vice and Narcotics Division
  • Family Crimes and Sexual Assault Division

2010 Howard County Crime Statistics included:

  • Theft — 4,998
  • Burglary — 1,393
  • Motor Vehicle Theft — 380
  • Aggravated Assault — 307
  • Robberies — 222
  • Rape — 25
  • Murder — 4

Becoming a Detective with the Howard County Police Department

The Howard County Police Department hires detectives to serve in Columbia, Maryland.

The first step to becoming a detective in Howard County is to land a police officer job. After a new recruit has completed an eighteen-month probationary period as a police officer, they are allowed to request a specialty role as a criminal investigator.

To initially qualify to become a police officer, job candidates must complete at least 60 college credits orhold an associate’s degree or have two years of active military experience or agree to participate in an associate’s degree program through the local community college

General qualifications include:

  • Must be a United States citizen
  • Must be at least 21 years of age
  • Must have a valid driver’s license
  • Must have no felony or serious misdemeanor convictions
  • Must have no previous illegal or prescription drug use within three years
  • Must have no DUI arrests within five years
  • Must have no more than three points off on driver’s license
  • Must have not been dishonorably discharged from the military

Educational Perks for Detectives in Howard County

Detectives in Columbia that work for the Howard County Police Department become college education for several reasons. First, by completing 60 college credits or earning as associate’s degree helps aspiring detectives to qualify for jobs as police officers. Secondly, the Police Department has partnered up with Howard Community College so that new recruits can earn an associate’s degree while attending the Police Academy. Lastly, all employees of the Howard County Police Department are offered tuition reimbursement to any accredited college they attend.

Detectives that take advantage of the Police Department’s partnership with Howard Community College enroll in an Associate of Applied Science of Police Science. This degree program is specifically designed for entry-level police officers that have no college or military experience prior to hire. This program consists of roughly 60 credits and includes courses in:

  • Criminal Investigation
  • Police Defensive Tactics
  • Patrol Operations
  • Emergency Vehicle Operations
  • Computer Forensic Basic Concepts
  • Criminal Evidence and Procedure
  • Introduction to Criminal Law

Of course, detectives and criminal investigators interested in working for the Howard County Police Department are not limited to Howard Community College’s Associate of Applied Science in Police Science degree. There are plenty of online schools, colleges, community colleges, and universities through Maryland that offer degree programs in field related disciplines such as criminal justice, forensic science, corrections, legal studies, computer forensics and homeland security. Specific examples include:

  • Associate of Applied Science in Criminal Justice
  • Associate of Arts in Forensic Science
  • Bachelor of Science in Legal Studies
  • Bachelor of Arts in Community Studies
  • Master of Science in Administration of Justice and Security

Criminal Investigations Divisions in the Howard County Police Department

Criminal Investigations Division Detectives that work in the Criminal Investigations Division handle cases involving major violent crimes, robberies, and property crimes. These detectives perform several key duties including: conducting surveillance, executing covert operations, issuing search and seizure warrants, and interviewing case-related victims, suspects and witnesses.

Vice and Narcotics Division – Detectives that work in the Vice and Narcotics Division handles cases involving the possession, manufacturing, distribution and sales of controlled substances. This division also targets offenders associated with gambling, prostitution and organized crime. 

Family Crimes and Sexual Assault Division – Detectives that work in the Family Crimes and Sexual Assault Division handle cases that involve child abuse, sexual assault, and domestic violence. This division also includes a Victim Assistance Section that provides crisis intervention and support services for crime victims.

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