How to Become a Criminal Investigator in Nevada

The Nevada Department of Public Safety’s Crime Report for 2012 indicates that during that year, one index crime occurred every five minutes and 35 seconds (Index crimes are classified as arson, aggravated assault, motor vehicle theft, robbery, larceny, rape, burglary, murder, property crime and violent crime).

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The total crime rate in Nevada that year rose to 34.18 per 1000 residents, up from 2011’s statistic of 31.66 per 1000 residents. Index crimes rose 9.42 percent in 2012 from 2011’s numbers.

By way of comparison, during 2012 Nevada employed 4015 sworn, full-time law enforcement officers, which represented a decrease of 28.58 percent from 2011’s total of 5654 sworn law enforcement officers. These officers included state troopers as well as detectives.

The Nevada Department of Public Safety Investigation Division is the state’s major detective bureau. Becoming a criminal investigator with the Public Safety Investigation Division involves first becoming a sworn law enforcement officer. These state detectives investigate cases and assist other law enforcement investigators as necessary.

The following units are housed within the Nevada DPS Investigation Division:

  • Major Crimes/Polygraph- offices located in Carson City
  • Nevada Threat Analysis Center (NTAC)- offices located in Carson City
  • Narcotics- field offices in Fallon, Elko, Mesquite, Ely and Winnemucca
  • Narcotic Task Forces- focusing on the following areas of Nevada:
    • Nevada HIDTA (High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area – primarily in Washoe and Clark Counties)
    • Winnemucca
    • Tri-Net
    • Fallon
    • Ely
    • Elko

Qualifying to Join the Nevada Department of Public Safety Investigation Division

Criteria to Become a Detective – Becoming a detective in Nevada with the DPS Investigation Division involves first joining the Department of Public Safety as a sworn law enforcement officer, as detectives are only hired from within. The criteria one must fulfill in order to become a law enforcement officer with the Nevada DPS are:

  • Be at least 21 years old
  • Be a U.S. citizen
  • Possess a Nevada Class C driver’s license
  • Possess a high school diploma/GED (possession of college credits relating to law enforcement is an advantage when it comes time to apply for a detective job)
  • Be able to obtain a radio operator’s certificate
  • Be able to obtain a radar operator’s certificate
  • Pass a physical fitness test
  • Pass a written exam
  • Complete an oral interview
  • Pass a medical exam, including visual and hearing assessment
  • Pass a drug screen
  • Pass a lie detector test
  • Pass a thorough background investigation, which must not find any of the following:
    • Felony conviction in Nevada or another state
    • Conviction of controlled substance offense
    • DUI conviction in the past five years or two in a lifetime
    • Conviction on domestic violence charges
    • Intentional falsification of information during background investigation
    • Illegal use of drugs within a year of applying to become a law enforcement officer

Training for New Detectives –All new sworn law enforcement officers in Nevada are obligated to complete five months of full-time (40 hours per week) paid training, held at the Training Division in Carson City. Here, a new cadet’s physical fitness will be further tested and developed. In addition, academic courses will focus on:

  • Administration
  • Patrol operations and investigations
  • Law and legal procedures
  • Firearms
  • Communications
  • Criminal procedures
  • Emergency vehicle operation and control
  • Preliminary investigation
  • Nevada criminal law
  • Defensive tactics

Detective Divisions in Nevada at the County and City Level

Detectives not only work at the state level in Nevada, but also may be found within some city police departments and county sheriff’s offices statewide. Listed below are just a few of the county and city law enforcement agencies in the state that employ detectives and criminal investigators:

  • Washoe County Sheriff’s Office Detectives Division – Reno
  • Churchill County Sheriff’s Office Operations Bureau Investigations Division – Fallon
  • Douglas County Sheriff’s Office Investigations Division – Minden
  • Lyon County Sheriff’s Office Field Services Division – Yerington
  • Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department – Las Vegas
  • Carson City Sheriff’s Office Investigations Division – Carson City
  • North Las Vegas Police Department Investigative Division – North Las Vegas
  • Henderson Police Department Investigations Division – Henderson
  • Reno Police Department Detectives Division – Reno
  • City of Elko Police Department Investigation Division – Elko

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