How to Become a Criminal Investigator with the Boston
Police Department

Detectives employed by the Boston Police Department typically work in the Bureau of Investigative Services. The Bureau is divided into four units:

  • Community Disorders Unit
  • Investigative Planning Unit
  • Major Case Division
  • Criminal Investigation Division

Each unit focuses on a specific crime group(s) and detectives earn positions based on areas of interest and expertise.

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According to therecent article in Boston Magazine, the Federal Bureau of Investigation reported 5,266 violent crimes in Boston in 2012. Additional crime statistics for that year included:

  • Murder — 57
  • Forcible Rape — 249
  • Robbery — 1,910
  • Aggravated Assault — 3,050
  • Property Crime — 18,348
  • Burglary — 3,325
  • Larceny — 13,400
  • Auto Theft — 1,624

The Path to Becoming a Detective with the Boston Police Department

Detective jobs in Boston are not entry-level positions, nor are they advertised on common job boards. Instead, detectives and criminal investigators must earn their positions through years of experience working as police officers in the Boston Police Department.

To qualify for police officer jobs, candidates must take a civil service exam through the Massachusetts Executive Office for Administration and Finance.

Civil Service ExaminationThe civil service exam for police officers is called the Law Enforcement Aptitude Battery (LEAB). Since the exam is only available every two years, new candidates must wait until 2015 to sit for examination. The LEAB consists of three parts: Ability Test, Work Styles Questionnaire, and Life Experience Survey. All sections are scored and combined to determine a candidate’s eligibility to become a police officer in Boston. All test-takers must provide:

  • Government-Issued Picture Identification
  • Social Security Card
  • Valid Driver’s License

Since the examination requirements for the 2015 schedule have not been posted yet, interested test-takers should review the previous year’s requirements as a guide for future exams.

On the date of examination, applicants must have a high school diploma or equivalent OR have at least three years of active service in the Armed Forces. Military personnel must have been released from duty under honorable discharge. Also, all candidates must be at least 21 years of age at the time of examination.

Conditional Employment Job candidates that successfully pass the civil service examination with high scores are offered conditional employment. During conditional employment, job candidates must agree to a tobacco prohibition agreement, obtain a firearms permit, and get a Massachusetts driver’s license.

The remainder of the hiring process primarily consists of further examinations and screenings, including:

  • Physical Abilities Test
  • Medical Examination
  • Police Academy Training
  • Comprehensive Background Check

Degrees Options – Many detectives and other law enforcement professionals have some level of post-secondary education. In fact, the United States Department of Labor, Employment, and Training Administration reports that 40.9% of all detectives and criminal investigators between the ages of 25 and 44 hold a bachelor’s degree. Popular criminal investigator degrees for found in Massachusetts include:

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

Detectives Serving the City of Boston

In May 2014 detectives with the Boston Police Department’s Drug Control Unit implemented two search warrants that led to arrests in connection with an illegal drug operation. By executing the search warrants, detectives were able to discover the following items of evidence:

  • Approximately 60 grams of heroin
  • 2 plastic bags of marijuana
  • Over $2,800 in cash
  • Drug paraphernalia

The Drug Control Unit is just one unit in the Police Department’s Bureau of Investigative Services charged with eliminating criminal activities on the streets of Boston.

Community Disorders Unit – In the Community Disorders Unit, detectives specialize in handling cases of civil rights infringement that involve acts of violence, threats or harassment.

Investigative Planning Unit – According to the Boston Police Department, detectives that work in the Investigative Planning Unit are responsible for providing operational and administrative logistical support to the Bureau Chief.

Major Case Division – Detectives in the Major Case Division investigate individuals or groups involved in criminal activity. The unit is organized into several sub-units, including: Family Justice Group, Special Investigations Unit, Drug Control Unit, Financial Evidence Unit, and DEA Task Force Unit. This division also houses several support units, including: Fire Investigation Unit, Auto Theft Unit, DA’s Office Unit, Crime Stoppers Unit, Licensed Premises Unit, and Sex Offender Registry Information Unit.

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