How to Become a Criminal Investigator with the Detroit
Police Department

Most criminal investigators employed in Detroit work for the Detroit Police Department. Because of the complex and sensitive nature of conducting investigations, detectives must hone their skills through years of work experience. Therefore, it is customary for detectives to start their careers by becoming police officers. After proving superior competency in the field, police officers may be offered a promotion to a detective or investigative position.

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Becoming a Detective with the Detroit Police Department

Requirements – The minimum requirements needed to become a police officer in the Detroit Police Department en route to becoming a detective include:

  • Must be at least 18 years of age
  • Must be a United States citizen
  • Must have 20/20 vision or corrected 20/20 vision
  • Must have normal color and depth perception vision
  • Must hold a valid driver’s license
  • Must have a good driving record
  • Must have a high school diploma or GED
  • Must have no felony convictions

Hiring Process – According to the Detroit Police Department, police officers undergo a 13-week hiring process that begins when they submit their application. A large portion of this hiring process consists of pre-employment evaluations. These evaluations help to determine a job candidate’s general ability to perform the duties expected of a police officer. In addition, these evaluations help discover if a job candidate is of good, moral character and well suited for investigations.

The series of evaluations include:

  • Reading and writing comprehension test
  • Physical fitness test
  • Pre-screening interviews
  • Criminal history checks
  • Driving record review
  • Fingerprint submission
  • Oral board assessment
  • Psychological examination
  • Background investigation
  • Medical examination

Basic Training Once a job candidate has met all basic requirements and successfully completed all evaluations, they are given the probationary title of “student police officer.” During this phase of the hiring process, student police officers must complete a basic training program. This program includes at least 562 hours of training over a 19-week time span. To pass the training program, student police must maintain a 70% success average.

According to the Detroit Police Department, student police officers are instructed in several field-related topics, including:

  • Practical precision driving
  • Criminal law and procedures
  • Physical conditioning
  • Defensive tactics
  • Firearms
  • First aid/CPR

Formal Education for Detroit’s Detectives

Even though the Detroit Police Department only requires entry-level police officers to hold a high school diploma or GED to qualify for job placement, most officers interested in becoming detectives hold themselves up to much higher educational standards.

Reports published by the United States Department of Labor, Employment, and Training Administration indicate that over 50% of all detectives and criminal investigators between the ages of 25 and 44 years of age hold either a bachelor’s or master’s degree.

Law enforcement professionals are generally encouraged to pursue college degrees that are directly applicable to their chosen career. As such, many detectives and criminal investigators enroll in degree programs geared toward disciplines like criminal justice, justice studies, forensic science, criminology or public safety. Examples of field-related degree programs offered in Michigan include:

  • Associate of Applied Science in Law Enforcement
  • Associate of Arts in Corrections
  • Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice
  • Bachelor of Arts in Criminology

Wayne County Prosecutor’s Criminal Investigations Division

Aside from the Detroit Police Department, another place that employs criminal investigators is the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Criminal Investigations Division (CID). In fact, some the investigators that work in the CID originally worked for the Detroit Police Department’s Homicide and Narcotics Units. The primary responsibility of detectives that work in the CID is to help the County Prosecutor and assistant prosecutors investigate criminals and prepare for subsequent court proceedings.

Detectives with the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Criminal Investigations Division may be assigned to different units within the CID, such as:

  • Public Integrity Unit
  • Child Family Abuse Unit
  • Homicide Unit
  • Felony Non-Support Unit

Operation Cherry Blossom

In May 2014, investigators in the Detroit Police Department helped launch “Operation Cherry Blossom.” The purpose of “Operation Cherry Blossom” was to apprehend individuals with outstanding warrants, individuals that sell illegal narcotics, and individuals that possess illegal firearms.

The operation is considered a great success for area investigators who helped to facilitate 24 felony arrests. According to the Detroit Police Department, the operation also led to the seizure of:

  • 4 illegal weapons
  • 35.3 grams of cocaine
  • 40.5 grams of heroine
  • 22 grams of marijuana
  • 38.5 assorted pills

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