How to Become a Criminal Investigator With the King County Sheriff's Office

The King County Sheriff’s Office is among the largest agencies of its kind in the country, both in terms of the area of its jurisdiction as well as the size of its force of sworn officers. Sheriff’s deputies are often the first responders to the most crimes committed within the jurisdiction of the sheriff’s office. When these deputies come upon particularly serious criminal cases they contact a detective.

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King County Sheriff’s Office detectives are assigned to serve either specific precincts or specialized units that work the entire county:

  • Those assigned to individual precincts investigate local burglaries, drug crimes, and other vice crimes specific to regional locations
  • Those assigned to specialized units aimed at combating specific types of crime across King County serve in the following units:
  • Special Support Enforcement Unit
  • Fire and Arson Investigation Unit
  • Major Accident Response and Reconstruction
  • Green River Homicides Investigation
  • Criminal Warrants Unit
  • Major Crimes Unit
    • Missing Persons and Runaway Section

Prospective criminal investigators who want to learn how to become a detective with the King County Sheriff’s Office can start by reviewing the following requirements.

Requirements to Become a Detective with the King County Sheriff’s Office

The path towards detective jobs with the King County sheriff’s office starts by becoming an entry-level deputy sheriff.

Being assigned as a detective usually requires deputies to demonstrate quality service over the course of three and five years. As deputies gain experience, they will have plenty of opportunities to work closely with detectives and gain valuable on-the-job experience.

Becoming a deputy requires applicants to meet the following qualifications:

  • Have a Washington State driver’s license and be 21 years of age by the time of hire
  • Have a high school diploma or GED
  • Be a US citizen

The sheriff’s office also values a college education, as evidenced by its education incentive pay of up to 6% of base pay according to a deputy’s level of college education. Going above and beyond the minimum qualifications with a college degree in certain subjects will ensure applicants have a firm grasp of the academic side to the investigative field, especially with degrees in:

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

King County Sheriff’s Office Detective Training Requirements

The training requirements for criminal investigator jobs with the King County Sheriff’s Office depend on a detective’s area of specialization. All deputies will receive a foundational level of essential criminal investigator training as part of their basic academy training. More advanced detective training can take place within the sheriff’s office or through other state and federal training organizations, which the sheriff’s office will sponsor. Common training courses include:

  • Suspect interrogation
  • Questioning techniques for witnesses and victims
  • Conducting homicide investigations
  • Conducting domestic violence investigations
  • Narcotics trafficking and production
  • Conducting anti-vice operations, especially against prostitution
  • Conducting surveillance and undercover operations

King County Sheriff’s Office Investigates Notorious Serial Killer

Many in the Pacific Northwest, if not the entire country, will have heard of the Green River Killer. Many of this serial killer’s victims were discovered in the jurisdiction of the King County Sheriff’s Office, which still maintains 10 open cases related to discovered bodies or missing women from the King County area dating to the time the killer was active. From 1982 until 2001 when the confessed killer was arrested, sheriff’s detectives were devoting countless hours to solving outstanding cases.

The Green River Killer pled guilty to murdering 48 women in the King County area, spawning cases that caused sheriff’s investigators to gain thousands of hours of experience dealing with serial killers. The King County Sheriff’s Office found the first pieces of evidence that would lead to identifying the suspect with its Green River Task Force, which still operates to this day.

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