How to Become a Criminal Investigator with the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department

The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department (LVMPD) reported 11,598 violent crimes in 2012—an increase in the violent crime rate of nearly 6% as compared to 2011. The rate of murder and forcible rapes dropped over this time period, but the rate of aggravated assaults increased by 6%. In addition, over 46,000 cases of property crime were reported in 2012.

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Given the magnitude of crime in Las Vegas, criminal investigators work out of two separate divisions in the Homeland Security and Law Enforcement Investigations Group:

  • Investigative Services Division
    • Crimes Against Youth & Family Bureau
    • Financial Crimes Bureau
    • Gang Crimes Bureau
    • Robbery/Homicide Bureau
  • Homeland Security Division
    • Airport Bureau
    • Emergency Operations Bureau
    • Organized Crime Bureau
    • Southern Nevada Counter-terrorism Center
    • Vice/Narcotics Bureau

Working out of individual bureaus enables these detectives to specialize in investigating particular types of crime.

Becoming a Detective with the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department

Becoming a detective with the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department involves joining the force as a police recruit and then being promoted to a criminal investigator.

While the LVMPD has strict criteria that applicants must meet, most of the department’s hiring standards are kept confidential.

Basic Requirements – The basic educational requirement to become a police officer in Las Vegas is to have a high school education. The process of obtaining police recruit jobs is competitive, and many candidates obtain advanced training in fields such as police science or criminal justice. Obtaining such a degree can enhance an applicant’s desirability as a candidate.

Other basic requirements include:

  • Be at least 21 years old by the date of the first test in the application process
  • Be a U.S. citizen by the date of this first test
  • Have vision that is correctable to 20/20:
    • Uncorrected far vision of 20/40 for those who wear hard lenses or have worn soft lenses for less than six months
    • Long term soft contact users do not have a minimum standard providing that they adhere to a number of conditions of contact lens use:
      • Replacing them every 6 months to 1 year
      • Cleaning them regularly
      • Signing an agreement to maintain their use
  • Not have any of the following convictions:
    • Felony
    • Crime that would require registration under Nevada’s laws
    • Two DUIs
    • Domestic violence or domestic assault

Selection Process – The department provides a study guide to help prepare for the many steps in the application process. This can be obtained on the study guide page of the LVMPD website. All applicants must go through the following steps:

  • Background pre-screening
  • Written exam
  • Physical fitness test
  • Mandatory seminar class
  • Oral board interview
  • Background/ISAS investigation including a polygraph exam
  • Medical exam and drug screening test
  • Second physical fitness exam

Training – All recruits undergo training at the LVMPD Academy, which is located in Las Vegas. They will have to be prepared to buy part of the equipment that they will use during their training. Those who do not do this will be terminated. After recruits complete their academy training, they take part in the Field Training Program before being assigned as patrol officers.

Specialized Investigative Units within the LVMPD

Some of the specialized investigative units within The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department are described below.

Homicide Section – Eighteen detectives investigate homicides, suspicious deaths, and deaths from fires in Las Vegas. The three Sergeants in this section each have six detectives assigned to them. This section includes a Cold Case Detail. Investigators examine new leads as they come in to try and solve over 450 cold cases.

Gang Crimes Bureau – In addition to activities such as directing gang members or affiliates to diversion programs, the members of this unit focus on investigating gang related crimes. They also assist the detectives in other units who are working gang related cases.

Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force (ICAC) Unit – Four full time detectives work with an Investigative Specialist and a computer analyst to investigate a variety of crimes against children. They include the following:

  • Child pornography manufacture, distribution, or possession
  • Kidnapping
  • Luring children with technology
  • Sexual assault
  • Lewdness with a minor
  • Statutory sexual seduction
  • Interstate travel to have sex with a minor

These professionals work closely with other detectives in the Crimes Against Youth and Family (CAYF) Bureau, since cases frequently overlap between department squads and sections.

Sexual Assault Unit – Five squads of detectives work in this unit—three fulltime during the days and two fulltime at nights. They perform the following aspects of investigations:

  • Screening and reviewing reported crimes
  • Making probable cause arrests
  • Submitting case packages
  • Carrying out search warrants

When the assault has occurred within the past 72 hours, the investigating detective coordinates with the first response officer. He or she then directs the investigation that includes the following:

  • A medical exam
  • Interview of the victim
  • Processing the crime scene

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