How to Become a Criminal Investigator with the Amarillo
Police Department

Texas has a population of around 197,000 people, but a fairly low crime rate, according to statistics published by the Federal Bureau of Investigations.

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Still, in 2012 alone, peace officers and criminal investigators with the Amarillo Police Department handled 1,278 violent crime reports. These crimes were classified as shown here:

  • Murder and nonnegligent homicide: 10
  • Forcible rape: 110
  • Robbery: 278
  • Aggravated assault: 880

Another 8,900 property crimes were reported in Amarillo that year:

  • Burglary: 2,087
  • Larceny-theft: 6,184
  • Motor vehicle theft: 629
  • Arson: 54

The Amarillo Police Department’s Detective Division is responsible for follow-up investigations into all types of violent and property crimes that take place within the city.

Amarillo Police Department Detective Requirements

Even experienced law enforcement officers have to enter the Amarillo Police Department as patrol officers. It takes about six months to complete the hiring process.

After a period of three years of satisfactory service and an acceptable level of achievement on the required exam, city police officers may apply to become detectives.


Applicants must live within 45 minutes of the downtown precinct by the last day of the police academy. Internet mapping programs will determine whether the residential address meets the criteria.

Applicants must be a high school graduates or have GED equivalency. Applicants with a GED must also have completed at least 12 college semester credits with a 2.0 or “C” grade point average.

Applicants must have a Texas Class C license with an acceptable driving record. Applicants with out-of-state driver’s licenses must be willing to obtain a Texas license by their last day of the police academy.

Successful applicants must be between 21 and 44 years of age on the day of entering the police academy and must also be United States citizens who can speak the English language fluently.

Applicants that meet these criteria will be allowed to participate in the candidate process, which involves:

  • A satisfactory score on a written entrance examination
  • Passing a comprehensive background check, which includes review of credit and employment history along with any criminal records
  • A polygraph examination
  • A medical exam, which includes a drug screening as well as tests for physical fitness, vision and hearing (uncorrected vision must be at least 20/200)

Disqualifying Factors:

  • Any felony or Class A misdemeanor convictions.
  • A Class B misdemeanor conviction within the past decade.
  • Any criminal conviction related to domestic violence.
  • Having an active criminal court case.
  • Three at-fault traffic accidents within the last three years.
  • U.S. Armed Forces discharge that is other than “honorable.” Uncharacterized discharges may be approved on a case-by-case basis.
  • Tattoos or excessive body piercings that either the potential officer is not willing to remove or cannot be covered up by a standard uniform.
  • Living more than 500 miles from Amarillo within the last five years may be a disqualifying factor, but each situation will be evaluated by the chief of police.

Training and Education:

Even experienced law enforcement officers must complete a 27-week police academy before being an official part of the Amarillo Police Department. Recruits are paid wages while attending the police academy.

A bachelor’s degree offers police officers a significant advantage when they apply for promotions to detective or seek rank increases. Associate’s degrees along with proven professional experience are also potentially helpful. Master’s degrees are even more valuable, though no degree can necessarily secure employment as a detective.

Generally, subjects of study need to relate to criminology, public safety, psychology, or criminal justice.

The Amarillo Police Department Detective Division

Detectives in the Amarillo Police Department serve in the Detective Division where they provide criminal investigative services for a number of squads. A detective with the Amarillo PD may be assigned to work within one of the following squads:

  • The Burglary Squad
  • The Crimes Against Persons Squad
  • The Juvenile Offender Squad
  • The Robbery Squad
  • The Theft Squad
  • The White-Collar Squad

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