How to Become a Criminal Investigator with the Memphis
Police Department

In 2011, Forbes Magazine named Memphis the second most dangerous city in the United States. The United States Census Bureau reported 1,006 violent crimes had occurred for every 100,000 state residents in that year. As a result of this stigma, criminal investigators are continually under tremendous pressure to solve crimes and bring perpetrators to justice.

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Police officers that move up through the ranks to become criminal investigators in the Memphis Police Department are assigned to the Investigative Services Branch. This branch works in collaboration with all other branches of the Police Department along with outside law enforcement agencies to review, assess and solve criminal cases in Memphis.

The Memphis Police Department Investigative Services Branch is composed of four units:

  • Crimes Against Persons
  • Crimes Against Property
  • Felony Response Unit
  • Crime Scene Investigations

Qualifying to Become a Detective with the Memphis Police Department

The Memphis Police Department mandates that all law enforcement officers, including detectives, meet strict job requirements, qualifications, and testing standards before entering the police force. Detectives typically earn their positions by proving professional excellence over years of experience working as police officers. The hiring process for detectives is mostly done through in-house promotions.

Minimum Education and Experience Requirements:

According to the Memphis Police Department, all job candidates must complete at least 54 semester hours of formal education from an accredited college or university. School records must indicate an overall grade of a “C” or higher. Candidates with at least two years of military service experience are exempt from the abovementioned education requirement.

The Memphis Police Department only accepts applicants that meet these basic criteria:

  • United States citizens
  • At least 21 years old
  • Have a valid state driver’s license and clean driving record

In addition, all former military personnel must have honorable discharge status.

Candidates with records reflecting felony convictions or guilty pleas will be disqualified.

Required Testing:

The Memphis Police Department demands that its staff be prepared for the mental, physical, and psychological strain inherent to jobs in law enforcement. As a result, new recruits must successfully pass a battery of aptitude tests to showcase their overall strength of mind and body. These tests include:

  • Running Test
  • Entry Test
  • Physical Dexterity Test
  • Personal Background Check
  • Psychological Evaluation
  • Medical Examination

Law Enforcement Training:

Criminal investigators that begin their career as police officers in Memphis must undergo intensive training before reporting for field duty. New recruits enter into the Memphis Police Department’s Training Academy to receive 21 weeks of supervised physical and educational training. Topics covered in basic training include:

  • Policies and Procedures
  • Writing Reports
  • Firearms Use
  • Criminal Law
  • Defense Tactics
  • Vehicle Operations

Education Options for Detectives and Other Criminal Investigators

Detectives lacking two years of military experience that want to apply for positions in Memphis need to complete 54 credits of formal education. This education must be earned from a regionally accredited college or university. Aspiring detectives are encouraged to enter into degree programs that are heavily weighted in law enforcement and criminal justice subjects.

Examples of degrees offered in the Memphis area include:

  • Associate of Applied Science in Criminal Justice Studies
  • Associate of Applied Science in Police Science
  • Associate of Applied Science in Corrections
  • Bachelor of Arts in Criminology and Criminal Justice
  • Bachelor of Professional Studies in Law Enforcement Administration
  • Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice

Students that enroll in a field-related degree program in Memphis will benefit from hands-on instruction, internship opportunities, and faculty-led research projects that most colleges and universities offer. Examples of courses found in criminal justice degree programs in Memphis include:

  • Criminal Justice System
  • Statistical Methods
  • Contemporary Issues
  • Police in America
  • Criminology
  • Drug Addiction/Alcoholism
  • Law and Society
  • Constitutional Criminal Procedure

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