How to Become a Criminal Investigator in North Dakota

Detectives and other criminal investigators work at all levels of government in North Dakota to ensure that violent criminals and other felons are brought to justice. In the most recent statistical year this included 1,712 violent crimes. These and other crimes investigated by detectives serving at the city, county and state level in North Dakota included:

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  • 28 cases of murder and manslaughter
  • 131 cases of robbery
  • 272 cases of forcible rape
  • 1,281 cases of aggravated assault

At the state level, the North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI) is tasked with conducting state-level investigations as well as assisting city and county law enforcement agencies as needed. Criminal investigators with the BCI are highly experienced detectives dedicated to ensuring justice is served in North Dakota.

Steps to Becoming a Detective with the North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation

Qualifying through Education and Experience – North Dakota’s detectives with the Bureau of Criminal Investigation are tasked with investigating everything from crimes involving computer predators to white-collar financial crimes. Because of this variety, criminal investigators can come from different backgrounds. In all cases, however, applicants will need to be educated and have experience in their area of expertise.

Requirements for employment start with having a four-year bachelor’s degree in:

  • Criminal Justice
  • Behavioral Sciences:
    • Psychology
    • Sociology
    • Deviant Psychology

More specialized detectives will need to have a bachelor’s degree in their field of expertise. Meeting the qualifications for investigative positions with the BCI is also a good way to go on to become qualified for detective positions with city and county law enforcement agencies. The right education can act as a springboard for future career development.

The BCI also requires candidates to have at least five years of investigative work experience. If an applicant is lacking a bachelor’s degree, it is possible to substitute additional years of work experience for education on a year-to-year basis, on top of the five year requirement.

As BCI detectives are also law enforcement agents, they must meet the requirements to become certified peace officers:

  • US citizen or legal resident alien
  • Valid driver’s license
  • Ability to legally possess a firearm
  • High school diploma or GED
  • No convictions for crimes of moral turpitude, felonies, or domestic violence

Applying with the Bureau of Criminal Investigations – Candidates who want to become a detective with the BCI can start by checking the career vacancies posted by the state human resource management services. The BCI is under the jurisdiction of the state Attorney General, with detective jobs being listed under the official title of Criminal Investigator I. Applicants are screened for their qualifications and skills, and the hiring process will include:

  • Extensive background investigation
  • Medical examination
  • Psychological evaluation

Applications are only accepted online. To start the application process, candidates will need to apply according to the instructions contained in the job announcement.

Criminal Investigator Training – If candidates have not already been licensed as a North Dakota peace officer they will need to attend a basic training academy approved by the North Dakota Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) Board.

After passing this initial step, criminal investigator training will be provided by the BCI to ensure new detectives are on the same page with the Bureau. This will be assessed based on the new investigator’s prior detective training, experience, and education. Topics covered can include:

  • North Dakota BCI policies and procedures
  • Conducting inter-agency operations
  • BCI capabilities in technology and surveillance
  • Chain of command in emergency situations

Working for the North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation

The BCI has several functions as a law enforcement investigative agency in North Dakota. Its primary missions are to:

  • Assist law enforcement agencies at all levels of government with investigations into criminal and drug activity
  • Maintain the North Dakota sex offender registration system
  • Maintain the state’s criminal history registration system
  • Make public presentations on the signs and dangers of drug abuse
  • Conduct specialized law enforcement training courses

Some recent examples of the North Dakota BCI in action include:

  • 20 suspects were arrested in a multi-agency operation involving the BCI. This was the culmination of a lengthy undercover operation which targeted drug traffickers in McKenzie County.
  • BCI investigators recently presented enough evidence in an internet child pornography case to secure a 30-year prison sentence for the offender. The conviction came as the result of a joint investigation with the Fargo Police Department and Homeland Security Investigations.
  • BCI detectives working with the Moorhead Police Department, Fargo Police Department, and the Minnesota State Patrol recently made a high-profile drug bust as part of a narcotics operation.

State and Local Cooperation with the North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation

BCI criminal investigators will find they often collaborate with detectives from other prominent law enforcement agencies in the state. Often times BCI detectives will have gained their required experience working with one of these agencies:

  • Fargo Police Department, Investigations Division
  • Bismarck Police Department, Criminal Investigations Section
  • Grand Forks Police Department, Criminal Investigations Bureau
  • Minot Police Department, Investigations
  • West Fargo Police Department, Investigations
  • Dickinson Police Department, Criminal Investigations Division
  • Cass County Sheriff’s Office, Investigations
  • Burleigh County Sheriff’s Department, Investigations Section
  • Ward County Sheriff’s Office, Investigations Division
  • Grand Forks County Sheriff’s Department

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