How to Become a Criminal Investigator with the Omaha
Police Department

Detectives with the Omaha Police Department (OPD) are members of the department’s Criminal Investigations Bureau (CIB). These criminal investigators work a number of cases, including those related to the 2,485 incidents of violent crime that were reported in 2012. Forty-one of these incidents were homicides.

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The CIB is comprised of two sections: Special Operations and Criminal Investigations. The latter section includes the Operations Squad along with the following units:

  • Homicide
  • Major Crimes
  • Special Victims
  • Crime Analysis
  • Crime Lab
  • North Investigations
  • South Investigations

Requirements to Become a Detective with the Omaha Police Department

Officers of the OPD are eligible to become detectives after they have been on the force for at least three years.

The first step to obtaining police officer jobs in Omaha is to meet the OPD’s minimum qualifications.

Basic Requirements – The state of Nebraska mandates that its prospective police officers have at least a high school education and can understand English at the 11th grade level.

Although, there is no requirement for a college degree, officers with bachelor’s or master’s degrees are eligible for additional pay in Omaha. While no degree is specified, many police officers with hopes of becoming detectives have degrees in criminal justice, forensic science, crime scene investigations, police science or other related fields.

Additional qualifications include:

  • Be 21 years old by the start of the first training class
  • Valid driver’s license
  • Must be free of the following convictions:
    • DUI within 2 years of the start of the training academy
    • Felony
    • Conviction for a crime punishable by at least a year in jail
    • Domestic violence misdemeanor

Application Process – Applicants who pass written and physical agility exams will be placed on an eligibility list. The department will rank the applicants by their scores on the written test. Candidates who appear promising will undergo a background check that examines the following areas of their lives:

  • Criminal history
  • Educational background
  • Employment history
  • Financial status
  • Military record
  • Traffic record

Training – Candidates learn to become police officers at the OPD Academy. This $9.6 million facility opened in 2008 and is shared by the Omaha Fire Department and the Army National Guard.

Recruits undergo 760 hours of training. The department provides 301 more hours of training than is mandated by the state to adequately prepare its recruits to serve in a major metropolitan area. These recruits are trained in an array of subjects including performing criminal investigations. After graduation, they take part in 15 weeks of field training. Once they have completed their training in the field, they may be given solo assignments.

Highlights of Detective Work in Omaha

The Omaha Police Department Criminal Investigations Bureau units that employ detectives are described below along with a few of their many successes.

Homicide Unit – Among the many members of the homicide unit are 20 detectives who work closely with the Douglas County Attorney’s Office. They work within one of three squads:

  • Homicide
  • Cold Case
  • Felony Assault

The Homicide Squad arrested 32 people for their role in murders during 2012. Detectives of the Cold Case Unit were able to close a murder from 1980, and detectives with the Felony Assault Squad investigated 220 of these cases in 2012.

North Investigations Unit – The members of this unit investigate a number of types of crime that occur north of Dodge Street. In 2013, detectives with this unit carried out the following activities:

  • Arrested 489 people
  • Worked over 3,300 cases
  • Interview over 4,400 victims, witnesses, and suspects
  • Conducted almost 100 searches

The detectives were able to recover stolen property worth tens of thousands of dollars that was linked to over 30 burglaries and locate the suspects in October 2013. One of the thieves received a 30 year prison sentence for burglary and theft-by-receiving, and the detectives were able to return much of the stolen property.

In May 2013, detectives were on the trail of a man suspected of stealing from motor vehicles throughout the city. While being pursued, he broke into a house and held an elderly woman hostage. The SWAT Squad was able to arrest the perpetrator without harm to the female. The man was sentenced to 47 years in prison.

South Investigations Unit – The investigators in this unit focus on cases of person and property crime from south of Dodge Street. They had 2,581 new cases assigned in 2012 and made 654 arrests. Nearly 60% of them were for felonies. Detectives solved a number of burglaries and helped to solve a case in which two teenagers confronted a man with a gun in an attempt to rob him.

Major Crimes Unit – The four investigative squads of this unit include the following:

  • Major Crimes
  • High Profile Crimes
  • Fraud
  • Field Investigations

The Field Investigations Squad is comprised of detectives who work felony and serious misdemeanor crimes that occur between 3 PM and 7 AM. They investigated over 1,300 incidents in 2012 and arrested over 1,100 people.

The Fraud Squad reviewed 2,038 cases in 2012 and arrested 211 people for financial crimes including embezzlement and criminal impersonation.

Detectives with the Major Crimes Squad investigate bank and commercial robberies. This included eight bank robberies in 2012. They were able to arrest suspects for seven of the robberies. The member of this squad work in joint task forces with the following agencies:

  • City Prosecutor’s Office
  • Douglas County Attorney’s Office
  • FBI
  • Secret Service
  • U.S. Attorney’s Office

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