How to Become a Criminal Investigator with the Reno
Police Department

The violent crime rate in Reno decreased 3.4% between 2012 and 2013, leaving investigators with 1,153 violent crimes to contend with, including 13 homicides.

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Thirty one criminal investigators worked out of the Detective Division of the Reno Police Department (RPD) in 2012 and 2013. Since it is not practical to investigate every crime, the department reviews cases for their likelihood of being solved. Supervisors are most likely to assign cases to detectives when a suspect or license plate has been identified, there is DNA evidence, or the crime is part of a larger trend.

Joining the Reno Police Department to Become a Detective

Aspiring detectives in Reno start by joining the RPD. The department offers the opportunity to transfer to specialized assignments such as investigations after having served as a patrol officer for at least two years.

The RPD periodically recruits for new police officers, and candidates must apply during an open recruitment period. The Civil Service Commission of Reno coordinates the application process.

Requirements and Minimum Standards:

  • Be at least 21 years old by the time of appointment
  • Be a U.S. citizen
  • Have undergone a medical exam to show that there is no disqualifying physical condition
  • No documented history of physical violence
  • No conviction related to:
    • A felony
    • A crime of moral turpitude
    • Illegal use, sale, or possession of a controlled substance
    • Domestic violence or assault

The department demonstrates the degree to which it values college training by offering reimbursement for additional education of up to $1000 a year.

Selection Process – Applicants go through several phases of selection. The department has prepared a guide to help applicants prepare for this screening. Its initial steps are shown below:

  • Physical conditioning exam
  • Written exam

Applicants who pass these steps and appear to be of good moral character undergo a thorough background investigation. This involves the following:

  • Completing a Personal History Questionnaire
  • Submitting the required documents
  • Filling out a Johnson/Roberts Personality Profile Test
  • Being interviewed by a background investigator

A Hiring Board then reviews the summary of these findings and decides whether or not to make a conditional offer of employment. Those who are chosen then take part in the following steps:

  • Oral interview
  • Psychological exams: written and interview
  • Medical exam and drug screening
  • Polygraph exam
  • Final review by the Hiring Board

Training – The RPD sends its new recruits to the Northern Nevada Law Enforcement Academy (NNLEA) for 19 weeks of training. This involves a blend of academic instruction and scenario based training. Topics of study range from Constitutional law to physical training such as the use of firearms and emergency vehicles.

Units within the Reno PD Detective Division

Robbery/Homicide Unit – Nine detectives in this unit focus on all major crimes against people. This includes:

  • Murder
  • Manslaughter (not related to traffic)
  • Battery and assault with a deadly weapon
  • Kidnapping
  • Questionable deaths
  • Robbery
  • Major cold cases

Sex Crimes/Child Abuse Unit – The six detectives who investigate sex crimes and the abuse of children specialize in providing compassionate care to victims. They investigate cases where adults and juveniles have been victimized in this manner.

Misdemeanor/Family Crimes Unit – The members of this unit work closely with victim advocates and strive to maintain the family as a unit. Six detectives work so that misdemeanor crimes in Reno are aggressively prosecuted.

Burglary Unit – The four detectives in this unit investigate both commercial and residential burglaries along with general theft and larceny. In addition to arresting suspects, these professionals recover stolen property.

Financial/Computer Crimes Unit – Four detectives specialize in investigating white-collar crimes and work closely with other law enforcement agencies and with financial institutions. They investigate the following types of crimes:

  • Check and credit card offenses
  • Computer crime
  • Elder financial abuse
  • Embezzlement
  • Fraud
  • Forgery
  • Identity theft

Auto Theft Unit – One detective specializes in investigating the theft of automobiles, motorcycles, trucks, and boats.

Special Intelligence Group – The purpose of this group is to assist government agencies to uniformly respond to terrorist threats. Two detectives specialize in the RPD’s homeland security efforts.

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