How to Become a Criminal Investigator in Oklahoma

Oklahoma’s detectives were involved with investigating most of the 17,902 violent crimes committed in the state in the most recent statistical year. These highly educated and trained professionals are employed at the state level to assist their counterparts at local sheriff’s offices and police departments as needed. State criminal detectives in Oklahoma should be prepared to:

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  • Interview witnesses and suspects
  • Conduct or assist in undercover operations
  • Act strategically based on intelligence
  • Conduct and evaluate forensic investigations

There are two primary law enforcement agencies at the state level that specialize in conducting advanced criminal investigations:

  • Oklahoma Highway Patrol (OHP), Troop Z: Investigations Division
  • Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation (OSBI)

Joining either the OSBI or OHP requires a college education. Candidates can also often qualify for detective jobs with city and county law enforcement agencies by completing an adequate level of higher education. Having an appropriate bachelor’s or associate’s degree is a good way for applicants to strengthen their credentials and increase career mobility.

Becoming a Criminal Investigator with the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigations

OSBI Special Agents serve as detectives to combat the state’s most violent organized criminals. Because these agents have an advanced level of responsibility, the minimum hiring requirements are stringent:

  • Bachelor’s degree in any subject
  • Knowledge of current criminal investigative techniques
  • At least 21 years of age
  • Relatively clean criminal background

While becoming a detective with the OSBI requires no prior detective training, applicants will need to have some familiarity with the criminal justice system and investigative protocols. A bachelor’s degree in any of the following subjects can fulfill this requirement:

  • Police Science
  • Law Enforcement
  • Criminal Justice
  • Crime Scene Investigation

Prospective applicants can find special agent vacancy announcements on the OSBI’s job openings webpage. Applications can be made according to the instructions provided in the vacancy announcement.

Training for criminal investigator jobs with the OSBI will include:

  • Criminal investigation procedures with the OSBI
  • Oklahoma laws and statutes
  • Crime scene investigation and reconstruction
  • Interview techniques
  • Conducting undercover operations and raids

Becoming a Criminal Investigator with the Oklahoma Highway Patrol Investigations Division

Troop Z is the specialized unit of the OHP assigned to conduct important investigations. It is comprised of experienced highway patrol officers who have advanced at least to the Level III rank. Attaining this rank requires:

  • Completing a probationary period
  • Completion of the Highway Patrol Training Academy
  • Being a US citizen between 23 and 46 years of age
  • Either an associate’s degree or 62 hours of college-level education

To become a Highway Patrol Cadet (Level I rank) with the OHP, candidates who successfully navigate the hiring process will need to complete a training course for certification as a police officer from the Council on Law Enforcement Education and Training.

Upon advancement to Troop Z: Investigations Division, OHP detectives will already be familiar with many investigative procedures from their experience. New training components, as well as refresher training, will include many of the same subjects found with the OSBI. Training will also reflect areas of OHP Troop Z specialization:

  • Spotting and investigating identity document fraud
  • Fugitive apprehension
  • Conducting speed-trap investigations
  • Auto theft along the turnpike system

Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation vs Oklahoma Highway Patrol

When considering how to become a detective in Oklahoma with either the OSBI or OHP, candidates are often interested in learning the distinctions between the criminal investigators in these two agencies.

The OSBI is an independent agency in the State of Oklahoma. A variety of experts act as specialized investigators to assist local law enforcement agencies with activities including:

  • Serious felony crimes such as murder, rape, and kidnapping
  • Computer crimes
  • Oil theft
  • Conducting background investigations

The Troop Z: Investigations Division is a specialized unit of the OHP comprised of experienced highway patrol officers. Troop Z operates throughout the state in close cooperation with local law enforcement agencies to assist with cases of:

  • Fugitive apprehension
  • Conducting polygraph examinations
  • Making threat assessments
  • Investigating trooper-related incidents and shootings
  • Investigating serious crimes which take place on the turnpike interstate road system
  • Detecting driver’s license fraud and forgery

Detectives with Oklahoma’s Municipal and County Law Enforcement Agencies

Besides state-level employment with the OSBI or OHP, prospective detectives can also consider pursuing employment with county and city-level law enforcement agencies. Each of these departments has its own hiring requirements, however qualifying for state-level employment often fulfills the local agency detective requirements.

  • Oklahoma City Police Department, Investigations Bureau
  • Tulsa Police Department, Investigations Bureau
  • Norman Police Department, Criminal Investigations Division
  • Broken Arrow Police Department, Technical Investigation, Criminal Investigation, and Special Investigations Units
  • Lawton Police Department, Detective Division
  • Edmond Police Department, Detective Division
  • Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Office, Investigations Division
  • Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office, Crime Investigation
  • Cleveland County Sheriff’s Office, Criminal Investigations
  • Comanche County Sheriff’s Office, Criminal Investigation Division

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