How to Become a Criminal Investigator with the Austin
Police Department

Among the 833,000 people that lived of Austin, Texas in 2012, there were an average of 408.8 violent crime committed for every 100,000 residents. Though Austin is a major metropolitan area, it has the third-lowest rate of violent crime in the entire United States, according to the FBI.

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The 2,300 patrol officers and criminal investigators of the Austin Police Department are credited with dramatically reducing the rate of violent crime in the city. Detectives with the Austin Police Department investigate most of the violent and property crimes that occur within the community.

Becoming a Detective with the Austin Police Department

Austin law enforcement officers may apply for a detective’s position after four years of satisfactory service. A satisfactory score on a written civil service examination is required for promotion to detective.

Basic Qualifications:

The Austin Police Department requires the following from its police officer applicants:

  • Be between 20.5 years old and 44.9 years old at the time of the application. The potential police officer trainee cannot turn 46 years old before starting the required academy.
  • Valid driver’s license with a good driving record.
  • Have 20/100 uncorrected visual acuity.
  • A thorough background check, including credit report reviews.

Disqualifying Factors:

  • Any felony convictions.
  • Misdemeanor convictions less than 10 years old. In some cases, applicants with misdemeanor convictions that are more than 10 years old may still be declared eligible for the police academy.
  • Conviction of any crime related to domestic violence.
  • A less-than-honorable release from any branch of the United States Armed Forces is an automatic disqualifying factor.
  • Any use of marijuana within the last three years.
  • Having a serious medical condition such as diabetes that requires constant, multiple daily testing and medication adjustments.

Educational Standards:

  • A police officer recruit must have at least a high school diploma or a GED.
  • An associate’s degree in a field such as criminal justice is typically recommended for people wishing to become criminal investigators. Earning a bachelor’s or a master’s degree in criminal justice, criminology, crime scene investigations or a related field could enhance a candidate’s chances for promotion.

Criminal Investigative Divisions Within the Austin Police Department

The Austin Police Department is divided into nearly four-dozen divisions, including the Special Investigations Unit and the Austin Regional Intelligence Center, which represents a partnership with nine other public safety agencies located in the Austin area.

The divisions in which detectives with the Austin Police Department may work include:

  • Sex Offender Unit
  • Alcohol Control Team
  • Animal Cruelty Unit
  • Auto Theft Interdiction Unit
  • Bomb Squad
  • Career Criminal Unit
  • Child Abuse Unit
  • Family Violence Unit
  • Financial Crimes Unit
  • Gang Suppression Unit
  • High Tech Unit
  • Homicide Unit
  • Human Trafficking Team
  • Integrity Crimes Unit
  • Internal Affairs Division
  • Metro-Tactical Unit Detective
  • Missing Persons/Juvenile Crimes Unit
  • Narcotics Conspiracy Unit
  • Organized Crime Unit
  • Property Interdiction Team
  • Robbery Unit
  • Sector Detectives
  • Sex Crimes Unit
  • Vehicular Homicide Unit

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