How to Become a Criminal Investigator With the Portland
Police Bureau

The Portland Police Bureau’s Detective Division is in charge of investigating all serious crimes and felonies that are committed within the Portland city limits. In 2012 this included 3,093 violent crimes including 20 murders. To efficiently combat criminal threats, the Detective Division is organized into the following lines:

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  • Cold Case Homicide Unit
  • Homicide Detail
  • Missing Persons Unit
  • Robbery Detail
  • White Collar Crimes and Fraud Unit
  • Sex Crimes Unit
  • Assaults and Bias Crimes
  • Human Trafficking Unit
  • Computer Crimes Unit

Detectives can and do make a huge difference in Portland. Just recently, cold case detectives solved a 20-year-old murder case after a confession from the accused killer, securing a 12-year prison sentence. Since 2004 the Cold Case Unit alone has solved 40 cases.

Career Path for Criminal Investigators with the Portland Detective Division

Going beyond the minimum standards for hire is advisable because the Portland Police Bureau only hires five percent of all applicants.

Detective jobs with the Portland Police Bureau can be obtained through a competitive testing process once candidates have served at least three years with the Bureau. Currently the average length of time an officer serves before being promoted to the Detective Division is 4.5 years.

To become a criminal investigator with the Detective Division, candidates can start as entry-level officers. This requires meeting these minimum standards:

  • Being at least 21 years of age
  • High school diploma or GED
  • No serious criminal convictions
  • Meet one of the following:
    • Two years-worth of college credit (60 semester credits, 90 quarter credits) or have completed a police certification course in a different state
    • Two years of work experience in the law enforcement field, including administrative and dispatching positions
    • Two years of active-duty military experience or four years of reserve-duty experience
    • Two years of service as a police reserve officer or in the police cadet program (at least 500 hours of service)

Criminal Investigator Training with the Portland Detective Division

Initial training to become a police officer will provide valuable investigative skills. This lasts 16 weeks and is held at the Basic Police Academy in Salem.

Following this is an advanced training academy lasting approximately 12 to 13 weeks with the Portland Police Bureau, which will instill advanced investigative techniques and strategies.

In-service training is required every year and can also be highly valuable and relevant to detective work.

Finally when an officer is promoted to the Detective Division, he or she will have additional opportunities for advanced detective training in a particular area of expertise. This portion of training will be specific to the new criminal investigator’s assigned unit within the Detective Division.

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