How to Become a Criminal Investigator With the Cranston
Police Department

Although most of the 80,000-plus residents of Cranston are law-abiding citizens, a small fraction is not. And of that fraction of the population, each year more than 100 individuals will commit violent crimes. Such was the case in 2012 when Cranston experienced two murders and 78 aggravated assaults.

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When serious felony crimes like these are committed, the Cranston Police Department assigns special criminal investigators from its Detective Division to investigate. This division is comprised of police officer detectives who work in five different units:

  • Criminal Investigations Unit – 12 detectives conduct follow up investigations for misdemeanor and felony cases
  • Special Victims Unit – 3 detectives investigate sexual assaults, crimes against juveniles, and other Family Court issues
  • Special Investigations Unit – 3 detectives conduct investigations into organized crimes, narcotics, and gambling; the unit is also involved in conducting surveillance and working with federal task forces.
  • Bureau of Criminal Identification – 3 detectives are part of this unit, who process crimes scenes, manage evidence, and conduct criminal record as well as background checks
  • Prosecution Unit – several detectives work closely with this unit to ensure prosecutors have the best possible evidence to ensure justice is properly carried out

To become a Detective with the Cranston Police Department’s Detective Division, candidates will need to first become hired as entry-level police officers and gain experience.

Becoming a Criminal Investigator with the Cranston Detective Division

When there are openings, police officers can be assigned to the Detective Division once they have gained sufficient experience and seniority. A maximum of 25 police officers may be assigned to criminal investigator jobs within the Detective Division. Each will report to one of five of their superior sergeants.

Police officers will need to serve with the Cranston Police Department for a minimum of five years before they will be eligible to apply for a sergeant position and lead one of the Detective Division units. Gaining a permanent detective position can take up to 15 years.

Getting started initially as a police officer requires candidates to meet the following requirements:

  • At least 21 years old
  • High school diploma or GED
  • Valid Rhode Island operator’s license
  • US citizenship and Rhode Island residency
  • Meet one of the following:
    • Associate’s degree in any subject
    • 60 college credits in any subject
    • Two years of full-time service in the military, as a corrections officer, as a police officer, or as a sheriff’s deputy
    • Five years of continuous military service

Along the path to becoming a detective with the Cranston Police Department, candidates will need to initially become a police officer. One of the ways to qualify for this position is by having an associate’s degree or bachelor’s degree in any subject. Candidates can find that the following academic areas will provide a strong base knowledge in fields that are highly relevant to criminal investigator jobs:

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

Progressive Training Throughout a Detective’s Career

Upon being hired as a police officer trainee, new recruits will start by completing the Rhode Island Municipal Police Training Academy. This is followed by a field training program and an initial year of probation that allows for additional training as needed.

The first year after being hired as an entry-level officer will be filled with many training courses, with a significant portion of these being dedicated to conducting criminal investigations. As candidates gain experience and get closer to meeting the requirements for criminal investigator jobs with the Detective Division, they should also be taking every opportunity to acquire in-service training.

In-service and academy-based criminal investigator training can include:

  • Undercover investigations
  • Investigating crimes against vulnerable populations
  • Conducting suspect interviews
  • Conducting arson investigations
  • Rhode Island laws and statutes
  • Collecting evidence and building a case for presentation in court
  • Basic elements of a criminal investigation

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