How to Become a Criminal Investigator With the Seattle
Police Department

Each year in Seattle more than 3,000 violent crimes are committed. Seattle Police Department patrol officers are often the first ones on the scene, but when a particularly challenging or serious crime has been committed, detectives are called in.

Seattle Police Department detectives work in many important areas of specialization that involve investigating everything from homicide to internet crimes. Detectives with the Seattle Police Department’s Criminal Investigation Bureau are assigned to one of the following units:

  • Homicide and Cold Case Units
  • Forensics Support Services
  • Narcotics Section of the General Investigations Unit
  • Domestic Violence Unit
  • Vice and High Risk Victims Unit
  • Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force

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Steps to Become a Detective with the Seattle Police Department

To become a detective with the Seattle Police Department, candidates will need to first become hired as a regular police officer and serve at least three years on the force. After three years of service, patrol officers are eligible to transfer to the Criminal Investigation Bureau.

The path towards criminal investigator jobs starts by meeting the basic requirements for hire as a patrol officer:

  • At least 20.5 years of age
  • High school diploma or GED
  • US citizenship
  • Valid Washington State driver’s license by the time of hire
  • Honorable discharge from the military, if applicable

Although college education is not a requirement for being hired either as a cadet or a detective, having a relevant associate’s or bachelor’s degree can be advantageous for several reasons:

  • Laying a firm academic groundwork that develops key investigative skills
  • Adding to an applicant’s initial qualifications for positions that can be highly competitive
  • Opening future career possibilities

Academic subject areas that have a strong relevance to the field of investigations include:

  • Law Enforcement
  • Criminal Justice
  • Forensic Science
  • Psychology
  • Law

Some colleges offer 20 credits towards an associate’s degree for a police recruit’s training academy.

Promotional Steps Within the Seattle Police Department

As police officers work their way towards detective jobs in the Criminal Investigation Bureau they will be eligible for regular salary increases:

  • Recruit – $25.98 per hour during academy
  • Officer Step 1 – $69,240 after academy
  • Officer Step 2 – $74,244 after 6 months
  • Officer Step 3 – $77,628 after 18 months
  • Officer Step 4 – $80,604 after 30 months
  • Officer Step 5 – $84,648 after 42 months
  • Officer Step 6 – $90,672 after 54 months

Criminal Investigator Training Requirements with the Seattle Police Department

A solid foundation in the field of investigations is established early on in a police officer’s training, starting with the required training an entry-level officer must complete:

  • Basic Law Enforcement Academy – 720 hours involving in-depth study of the protocols and techniques of conducting investigations
  • Student Officer – four weeks after basic training spent as a student with the Seattle Police Department Advanced Training Unit
  • Field Training Program

Once an officer is accepted for transfer to the Criminal Investigation Bureau, he or she will be assigned to detective school with the Advanced Training Unit. In addition to in-house courses, the department works with other state and federal agencies to provide access to the best detective training possible.

Besides covering advanced investigative techniques, detective training is specifically focused on the future investigator’s area of expertise within the Criminal Investigation Bureau.

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