How to Become a Criminal Investigator with the Chattanooga
Police Department

One of Chattanooga’s greatest defense tools against crime is its elite team of detectives that serve in the Chattanooga Police Department’s Investigative Services Division and Special Investigations Division. According to the Chattanooga Police Department’s 2012 Annual Report, there were 12,869 reported crimes committed throughout the city.

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A statistical breakdown of these crimes include:

  • 7,769 – Larceny
  • 2,397 – Burglary
  • 1,211 – Aggravated Assault
  • 948 – Auto Theft
  • 477 – Robbery
  • 43 – Rape
  • 24 – Homicide

The Criminal Investigations Division (CID) is another division within the Chattanooga Police Department that houses state criminal investigators. There are approximately fifty investigators that work in the CID. Investigators typically work in one of the CID’s two divisions: Major Crimes Division and Property Crimes Division. The Major Crimes Division taskforce concentrates on crimes involving homicide, juvenile/missing persons, child abuse, domestic violence, crime scenes, and fingerprint identification. The Property Crimes Division taskforce concentrates on crimes involving burglary, fraud, robbery, and pawn.

Becoming a Detective with the Chattanooga Police Department

Basic Qualifications – Most criminal investigators begin their career path by becoming police officers for the Chattanooga Police Department. From there, they often gain at least three years of work experience providing patrol services. After three years, officers may be promoted as investigators and join a specialized unit within the department. In order to gain entry into the field as a police officer, fledgling detectives must meet certain job requirements, including:

  • Must be between 21 and 40 years old
  • Must pass physical examination
  • Must have a high school diploma or equivalent
  • Must be a United States citizen
  • Must be a Tennessee state resident
  • Must not have felony or serious misdemeanor convictions
  • Military personnel must have honorable discharge

Education for Criminal Investigators The Chattanooga Police Department requires job candidates to have a high school diploma or GED prior to employment. However, they admit to giving preferential treatment to applicants that complete at least 120 semester hours or 180 quarterly hours of formal education. Education must be acquired from an accredited college or university. In addition, students must hold a 2.0 GPA or higher. Several colleges and universities in Tennessee offer degree programs designed for criminal justice students, including:

  • Associate of Science in Paralegal Studies
  • Associate of Applied Science in Police Science
  • Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice
  • Bachelor of Science in Forensic Science
  • Master of Arts in Criminal Justice Administration
  • Master of Science in Criminology

Basic Training for Cadets Part of the Chattanooga Police Department’s hiring process involves basic training. Once job candidates have been selected to become cadets, they are sent to the Police Academy’s twenty-two week training program. Upon successful graduating from basic training, cadets enter into a Field Training Program to apply their newfound skills. According to the Chattanooga Police Department, cadets in training are instructed in field-related topics, including:

  • Criminal law
  • DUI enforcement
  • Traffic accident investigation
  • Laws of arrest
  • Report writing
  • Search and seizure
  • Firearms
  • Unarmed self defense

Specialized Investigations Divisions within the Chattanooga PD

Some criminal investigators that work in the Chattanooga Police Department are assigned to the Special Investigations Division (SID). There are approximately thirty investigators that work in the SID. Investigators typically work in one of the SID’s six units depending of individual levels of specialized training and field experience. The SID’s six units include:

Narcotics Unit: Investigators in the Narcotics Unit work to area drug traffickers, habitual drug offenders and methamphetamine labs. This unit may collaborate with the DEA and ATF to create a united front against local gangs and pharmaceutical drug activity.

Highway Interdiction Unit: Investigators in the Highway Interdiction Unit patrol local highways and roadways to intercept drug traffickers. In 2012, highway monitoring by this unit led to thirty-six felony arrests and $505,000 in drug seizures.

Auto Theft Unit: Investigators in the Auto Theft Unit have four primary functions: prosecute offenders of auto theft; identify disassembled vehicles; cooperate with other law enforcement agencies; provide VIN verifications.

Fugitive Unit: Investigators in the Fugitive Unit work with state and federal law enforcement agencies to take custody of wanted criminals. In 2012, this unit helped to secure the arrests of 425 fugitives.

Crime Suppression Unit: Investigators in the Crime Suppression Unit work to develop and maintain a gang-related database. This unit also provides support services to robbery, homicide, narcotic and burglary investigations for other units within the Police Department.

Vice Unit: Investigators in the Vice Unit attempt to infiltrate organized crime groups and other vice law offending networks involving prostitution, alcohol, gambling, pornography and weapons. This unit may use gather intelligence through covert operations.

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