How to Become a Criminal Investigator with the Great Falls
Police Department

The overall crime rate in Great Falls, Montana is below the national average. Thefts account for the greatest number of crimes. The violent crime rate has been consistently lower than the national average since 2001.

This excellent record is largely due to the efforts of the Great Falls Police Department, which has grown from two “lawmen” in 1888 to today’s force of 85 sworn officers, as well as a team of detectives within the department’s Investigative Bureau.

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Becoming a Detective with the Great Falls Police Department

Great Falls hires an average of four to six new police officers every year. First year offices earn an annual salary of $44,100, which increases to $53,015 after two years as they become eligible for detective jobs.

Education – Great Falls does not require any specific education or experience except a high school diploma. However, individuals hoping to move up from uniformed patrol to special investigative detectives (see department organization section below), have a much better chance of securing these jobs if they have a college degree as well as some law-enforcement related experience.

Satisfying the Basic Requirements – The following requirements must be met in order to be eligible to apply for a job as a police officer in Great Falls, MT:

  • U.S. citizen over the age of 18
  • Valid Montana driver’s license
  • Proportionate weight and height
  • 20/20 vision (corrected OK), no color blindness
  • Good moral character
  • No felony convictions
  • No visible tattoos of any kind; no sexist, racist or other offensive tattoos anywhere on the body
  • Able to work well with others
  • Good problem-solving skills
  • Willing to work with the community

Hiring Process – The hiring process can take three or more months. Great Falls is a member of the Montana Law Enforcement Testing Consortium (MLETC). Candidates whose applications are accepted must register for the MLETC test series which are offered in January, June and October. Candidates must successfully complete each test before moving on to the next one. The tests consists of:

  • Video behavioral assessment
  • Personal history statement
  • Formal oral board interview (10 questions are asked)
  • Medical examination (including drug testing)
  • Psychological evaluation
  • Background investigation

Men and women who successfully complete the process are placed on an eligibility list from which open positions are filled depending on the department’s needs. Police chiefs make their selection from the top three candidates on the eligibility list.

Training – All new recruits must spend 12 weeks at the Montana Law Enforcement Training Academy in Helena. Cadets only go home on weekends. Training consists of both classroom subjects and field training that prepares cadets for real-life situations on the job. Field work includes intensive training in physical fitness/agility, emergency vehicle driving, self-defense and firearms. Classroom studies include such topics as:

  • Legal procedures
  • Federal/state law
  • Human behavior
  • The Montana criminal justice and law enforcement systems
  • Police procedures
  • Investigative methods

Graduates receive Montana Peace Officer Standards and Training Board (POST) certification after spending one year on the job

How to Apply – Job descriptions, open positions, online application forms and detailed instructions are available at the Great Falls Human Resources employment website. Hard copies of application forms can be obtained from Human Resources, 2 Park Drive South, Civic Center, Room 202, Great Falls, MT 59401.Additional information can be obtained from Human Resources; 406-455-8545. Specific information about possible openings with the Great Falls Police Department can be obtained from Lt. Jack Allen, 406-455-8556.

Organization of the Great Falls Police Department Investigative Bureau

The department is organized into five bureaus: Patrol, Investigative, Support, Communications and Administration. The Investigative Bureau, headed by a Captain, Detective Lieutenant and Detective Sergeants, consists of four units:

  • HIDTA (High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area) – one Great Falls detective works with the Rocky Mountain High Drug Trafficking task force that is dedicated to “disrupt and dismantle local, multi-state and international drug trafficking organizations” operating in the multi-state Rocky Mountain region.
  • Case Unit – Five detectives investigate major cases like homicides, robberies, shootings, etc. They interview victims, suspects and witnesses, write reports and testify in court. These detectives must be highly motivated, have excellent communication skills and be able to work under minimal supervision.
  • School Resources Officers – Four detectives are assigned to four high or middle schools to investigate crimes or drug offenses committed on school grounds. They work with officials, attend meetings and give presentations.
  • Special Investigations Unit – Like TV’s, “Law & Order – Special Victims Unit,” these three detectives investigate rapes, sexual assaults, child abuse and other sex-related crimes. They also keep track of registered sex offenders and provide educational programs for citizen groups. One officer is devoted to internet crimes against children, child exploitation and child pornography.

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