How to Become a Criminal Investigator in Ohio

Criminal investigators operate at all levels of government in Ohio. Whether as part of county sheriff’s departments, municipal police departments, or state agencies, detectives are highly educated and well-trained individuals who usually have years of experience in the field of law enforcement investigations.

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Based on recent FBI information, there were approximately 34,595 violent crimes committed in Ohio in 2011. Criminal investigators helped to bring successful prosecutions in most of these cases. These crimes can be broken down by category:

  • 15,207 aggravated assaults
  • 15,235 robberies
  • 495 murders and cases of homicide
  • 3,658 cases of rape

Prospective criminal investigators in Ohio have several employing agencies to consider at the state-level:

  • Investigative Unit of the Ohio State Police (OSP)
  • Attorney General’s Bureau of Criminal Investigations (BCI)
  • Public Defender
  • Ohio Department of Job and Family Services
  • Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation

How to Become a State Criminal Investigator in Ohio

One of the most important qualifications to become a detective in Ohio is education. A relevant associate’s or bachelor’s degree will prepare applicants to meet basic requirements as well as lay a foundation for career advancement.

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Criminal Investigator Requirements

A state-level criminal investigator in Ohio will need to meet certain education and personal qualifications for employment. Possessing these qualifications will make candidates eligible for employment with several state agencies, and also coincide with requirements for many city and county criminal investigator jobs.

State applicants will need ONE of the following:

  • An accepted equivalency of these education, experience, or training requirements
  • Associate’s degree in Law Enforcement
  • 12 months of specialized training or experience conducting investigations for violations of:
    • Law
    • Rules
    • Policies
    • Procedures

The Attorney General’s Bureau of Criminal Investigations (BCI) has similarly stringent minimum employment requirements for its specialized investigation agents:

  • Two years of experience conducting investigations work with a law enforcement agency
  • Certification as a Peace Officer in Ohio or another state
  • Bachelor degree in:
    • Criminal Justice
    • Criminology
    • Sociology
    • Psychology
    • Social Sciences

Candidates who have already worked as an investigator with the BCI for two years may qualify to become a BCI Agent with this experience alone.

Application and Training

Searching for Criminal Investigator positions on the state’s employment website will yield the positions currently available with the respective hiring agency. BCI Special Agent vacancies are posted on the Attorney General’s career opportunities webpage. All applications can be completed online when there are advertised vacancies.

Criminal investigator training varies according to the employing agency, and starts with a department orientation.

Detective training for BCI Special Agents requires the completion of an approved peace officer training academy to become certified by the Ohio Peace Officer Training Commission (OPOTC).

The core courses of the OPOTC’s investigations curriculum include:

  • Conducting criminal investigations
  • Death investigations
  • Field testing and drug identification
  • Sex crimes investigations
  • Computer crimes investigations
  • Investigator photography

The Investigative Functions of Different State Agencies

Bureau of Criminal Investigation – The BCI’s special agents have a wide range of skills. These individuals assist local law enforcement agencies with cases that require a higher level of expertise. Specialized units within the BCI are:

  • Forensic Dive Team
  • Cyber Crimes Unit
  • Crime Scene Unit
  • Crimes Against Children Response
  • Criminal Intelligence Unit
  • Environmental Enforcement Unit
  • Narcotics Unit
  • Gaming Unit
  • Missing Persons Unit
  • Special Investigations Unit
  • Clandestine Drug Lab and Marijuana Eradication Unit
  • Technical Operation Unit
  • Interpol Liaison

Ohio State Police – The OSP’s Investigative Unit fulfills several important roles. In addition to providing professional assistance to local law enforcement agencies and the general public, the Unit also places an emphasis on investigating the following:

  • Alcohol and tobacco violations
  • Stamp fraud
  • Food safety and commerce

Ohio Department of Job and Family Services – Criminal investigators with this agency look into cases of fraud and abuse in programs and services such as:

  • Food assistance programs
  • Child care providers
  • Medicaid recipients
  • Those receiving unemployment compensation
  • Child care recipients
  • Medicaid providers
  • Cash assistance recipients

Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation – This agency employs detectives to investigate suspected cases of fraud involving workers’ compensation.

Detectives with Ohio’s County and Municipal Law Enforcement Agencies

State-level criminal investigators often work closely with their county and city counterparts. A strong collaborative relationship ensures more crimes can be solved. Each law enforcement agency is responsible for setting its own hiring standards and promotional schedule for those interested in becoming detectives. In many cases this includes college education or degrees as well as experience.

State detectives frequently work with these local law enforcement agencies’ criminal investigations divisions:

  • City of Cincinnati Police Department, Investigations Bureau
  • Cleveland Division of Police, Bureau of Special Investigations
  • Columbus Division of Police, Investigative Subdivision
  • Dayton Police Department, Central Investigations Bureau
  • Akron Police Department, Investigative Subdivision
  • Toledo Police Department, Detective Bureau
  • Franklin County Sheriff’s Office, Investigations Division
  • Cuyahoga County Sheriff’s Department, Detective Bureau
  • Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office, Criminal Investigations and Organized Crime Sections
  • Summit County Sheriff’s Office, Investigations Bureau

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