How to Become a Criminal Investigator With the Pittsburgh
Bureau of Police

Detectives make up 22 percent of the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police, or 192 out of the 873 total sworn officers. These professionals are on the front lines of the fight against organized criminal operations, violent crime, and crimes against vulnerable segments of the population.

Each year detectives investigate more than 2,000 violent crimes committed in the city limits, which include dozens of murders annually.

To become a detective in the distinguished ranks of the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police Investigations Branch, prospective criminal investigators will need to first distinguish themselves through years of service as a patrol officer.

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Qualifications to Become a Criminal Investigator with the Pittsburgh Bureau
of Police

Currently police officers have an average of six years of service before they are promoted. Upon demonstrating exceptional skill as a police officer, the superior officer can recommend an officer for promotion to a detective position with one of the units in the Investigations Branch. The department’s police merit board must then approve this appointment.

Getting a Degree – One of the requirements to becoming a full-fledged police officer is effectively to have a bachelor’s degree in any subject. At the time of taking the civil service exam for a police officer position, candidates will need to have at least 30 semester credits of college education. After being hired, new cadets will need to obtain a total of 60 semester credits of college education before they can begin training academy classes based on their rank eligibility. It is possible to have the 60-credit requirement delayed for up to one year.

While credits in any subject of college education are acceptable, future detectives would do well to consider certain fields of study which are relevant to the skills they will need to develop as a criminal investigator. These academic areas include:

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

As a demonstration of the value the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police places on college education, it offers its officers a tuition assistance program to help pay for the costs of higher education.

Criminal Investigator Training – Training for detective jobs starts with a new officer’s training at the Pittsburgh Police Academy. Essential detective training covered includes:

  • Conducting a crime scene investigation
  • Crime scene reconstruction
  • Special investigation units within the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police
  • Evidence procurement for courtroom presentation
  • Conducting interviews, questioning, and interrogations

Police officers will work closely with their more experienced peers and can also have educational interactions with those already assigned to the Investigations Branch. As part of their regular in-service training, officers should consider choosing courses that are closely pertinent to the field of investigations such as the following, offered by the Pennsylvania State Police:

  • Sexual violence investigations
  • Homicide investigations
  • Cyber crimes
  • Bloodstain pattern analysis for the detective
  • Animal cruelty investigations
  • Domestic violence and child abuse

Units within the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police Investigations Branch

The majority of the police bureau’s criminal investigator jobs are located in the Investigations Branch which is comprised of two sections and several accompanying squads:

  • Major Crimes
    • Arson
    • Auto theft
    • Burglary
    • Homicide
    • Computer crimes
    • Homicide
    • Mobile Crime Unit
    • Night Felony Unit
    • Robbery
    • Sex Assault and Family Crisis, Missing Persons
    • Witness Protection Program
  • Narcotics, Vice, and Firearms Tracking
    • Asset forfeiture
    • Weed and seed – law enforcement and community investment program
    • Impact – emphasis on street-level drugs and guns with an emphasis on gangs
    • Investigations
    • Firearms tracking
    • Vice – prostitution, gambling, and nuisance bars

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