How to Become a Criminal Investigator With the Tacoma
Police Department

Although Tacoma is the third-largest city in Washington, it has the second-highest rate of violent crime. Key to putting a stop to this is the Tacoma Police Department’s Investigations Bureau, which is comprised of experienced detectives who bring justice to cases ranging from homicide to computer crimes against children.

Criminal investigator jobs within the Investigations Bureau are divided into three basic sections:

  • Criminal Investigations Division
  • Special Investigations Section
  • Forensic Services Section

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Requirements to Become a Detective with the Tacoma Police Department

To become a detective with the Tacoma Police Department’s Investigations Bureau, candidates will need to first serve at least four years as a normal police officer with the department. Once this requirement has been fulfilled, transfer to the Investigation’s Bureau depends on demand and competition.

On average, the police department processes 2,000-3,000 applicants each time there is a new officer hiring cycle. To increase a candidate’s competitive qualifications, prospective police officers and detectives can consider studying for an associate’s or bachelor’s degree.

Although college education is not a requirement for entry-level police or detective jobs, it is one of the qualifications for more advanced positions within the department. To emphasize the importance the Tacoma Police Department places on college education, it offers education incentive pay as well as tuition reimbursement programs.

Study in the following subjects will provide a strong foundation in the field of investigations:

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

A detective’s criminal investigator training starts in basic cadet courses with the Washington State Criminal Justice Training Commission and continues up through becoming a detective. Once an officer has been assigned to the Investigations Bureau, he or she will undergo training that is specific to the particular investigative unit.

Tacoma Police Department Ranks and Requirements

The ranks, annual salaries, and requirements for positions in Tacoma Police Department include:

  • Police Officer – $58,011 to $80,163
    • High school diploma
    • US citizen
  • Police Detective – $83,948 to $88,129
    • Four years of experience as a Tacoma Police Officer
  • Police Sergeant – $92,331 to $96,948
    • Either one year of experience as a Detective or five years of increasingly responsible experience as a Police Officer
  • Police Lieutenant – $115,419 to $121,180
    • Either an Associate’s Degree or two years of completed study towards a Bachelor’s Degree
    • Three years of experience as a Police Sergeant
  • Police Captain – $132,724 to $139,360
    • Either an Associate’s Degree or two years of completed study towards a Bachelor’s Degree
    • Two years of experience as a Police Lieutenant
  • Assistant Police Chief – $156,915 to $181,646
    • Five years of police management experience with increasing responsibilities
    • The equivalent of a Bachelor’s Degree in fields related to the following:
      • Police Science
      • Criminal Justice
      • Public Administration

Investigative Units within the Tacoma Police Department

The Tacoma Police Department’s Investigations Bureau is made up of the following sections and divisions:

 Criminal Investigations Division

  • Violent Crimes Section
    • Homicide and Assault Unit
    • Special Assaults Unit
      • Assaults with a sexual motivation
      • Assaults against children
      • Computer crimes
      • Sex offender registration
  • Major Crimes Section
    • Special Victims Unit
      • Domestic violence
      • Arson
      • Juvenile cases
  • Career Crimes Unit
    • Burglaries and robberies
    • Financial crimes
    • Vehicle crimes
    • Identity theft

Special Investigations Section

  • Narcotics and vice crimes
  • Prostitution
  • Drug trafficking
  • Multi-agency task forces
  • Crime Scene Unit
  • Latent Print Unit

Forensic Services Section

  • detectives work closely with Crime Scene Technicians and Forensic Specialists

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