How to Become a Criminal Investigator With the Salem
Police Department

In 2012 there were seven murders committed in Salem, Oregon. These seven homicides were among the 564 violent crimes committed in Salem that year. The Salem Police Department’s Investigations Division is assigned to investigate these types of crime. Specifically it handles crimes that involve violence, felonies, and the exploitation of vulnerable populations.

There are approximately 58 full-time employees assigned to the Salem PD Investigations Division, who work in different units and subsections of the Division:

  • Criminal Investigations Section
    • Persons Crimes Unit
    • Property Crimes Unit
    • Crime Lab Unit
  • Special Operations Section
    • Civil Investigations Team
    • DEA Task Force
    • Gang Response Team
    • Street Crimes Unit
  • Community Response Section
    • Crime Prevention Unit

Becoming a Detective with the Investigations Division

To become a detective with the Salem Police Department, candidates will need to start by being hired as an entry-level police officer. After gaining experience and a series of positive job performance reviews, officers may become eligible for transfer to the Investigations Division.

Being hired initially as an officer requires meeting certain requirements. These are:

  • Be at least 21 years of age
  • Have a high school diploma or GED
  • Have a valid driver’s license
  • Be a US citizen with excellent moral character

Because these entry-level police positions can be competitive, candidates are encouraged to also be aware of the attributes the Salem Police Department prefers:

  • At least 90 college credits
  • Prior law enforcement experience
  • Bi-lingual language skills

The emphasis the Salem Police Department places on college education is underscored by its tuition reimbursement program, which offers officers money towards obtaining a college education.

Though not one of the stated requirements to become a detective, an associate’s degree or bachelor’s degree in any of the following subjects will instill valuable skills in future criminal investigators as well as provide additional credentials for a strong résumé:

  • Criminal Justice
  • Law Enforcement
  • Police Science
  • Law
  • Forensic Science

Criminal Investigator Training Requirements

Training for detective jobs begins with a police officer’s basic training for certification in a course approved by the Oregon Department of Public Safety Standards and Training (DPSST). This will include investigative fundamentals like securing evidence from a crime scene and conducting an interview.

As police officers gain experience they can combine this with training courses from the DPSST to get a higher ranking certification. The DPSST also periodically offers courses that are highly relevant to criminal investigator jobs.

Advanced detective training covers subjects specific to a criminal investigator’s section assignment within the Investigations Division:

  • Criminal Investigations Section training:
    • Homicide investigations
    • Robberies
    • Assaults
    • Sex crimes
    • Fraud
    • Arson
    • Auto theft
  • Special Operations Section training:
    • Multi-agency joint missions and task forces
    • Narcotics trafficking
    • Gang investigations
  • Community Response Section training:
    • Community policing strategies
    • Juvenile and youth intervention

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