How to Become a Criminal Investigator with the Charleston, WV
Police Department

Charleston, the capital of West Virginia, has the largest municipal police force in the state. The city’s crime rate has historically been very high; however, it has been steadily decreasing due to the diligence and dedication Charleston’s police officers.

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For instance, there were 15 murders per every 100,000 people in 2004 compared with five in 2011. In the same two years assaults dropped from 612 to 362 and the overall crime rate fell from 726.2 to 489.6 for every 100,000 residents.

Becoming a Detective with the Charleston, West Virginia Police Department

Detectives with the Charleston police department are selected from the ranks of the department’s regular police officers.

Duties performed by CPD detectives include:

  • Follow-up on leads
  • Perform surveillance
  • Develop and use confidential informants
  • Process crime scenes
  • Gather and preserve evidence
  • Interview witnesses
  • Interrogate suspects
  • Execute search warrants
  • Make arrests
  • Attend autopsies
  • Analyze findings
  • Prepare reports
  • Testify in court

Meeting the RequirementsThe following requirements must be met in order to become a police officer with the city of Charleston:

  • High school diploma or GED. An Associate’s or bachelor’s degree in criminal justice or law enforcement is a definite advantage.
  • Between the ages of 18 and 40
  • No criminal record/must pass thorough background investigation
  • Valid driver’s license/clean driving record
  • Pass written examination and physical fitness test*

*The written examination tests the applicant’s skills in the following areas:

  • Vocabulary
  • Reading comprehension
  • Spelling
  • Language
  • Number operations
  • Problem solving

In order to pass the physical fitness test an applicant must be able to complete at least 18 push-ups and 27 sit-ups in one minute each and run 1.5 miles within 15 min, 20 sec.

Applicants who successfully complete all of the above requirements will then complete the hiring process that consists of an oral interview, polygraph test, medical examination and psychological screening.

How to Apply – Men and women interested in becoming members of the Charleston police department (CPD) will complete a “pre-application” in order to be considered for the next training phase. The online application, along with announcements of open positions and details about the hiring process are available at the CPD employment website.

Training – New recruits attend 15 weeks of basic training at the West Virginia State Police Academy in Institute, West Virginia followed by orientation training and a field-training program in Charleston.

Organization of the Charleston, West Virginia Police Department

CPD employs approximately 169 sworn officers who rank from Chief of Police to Patrol Officer. Divisions within the Charleston Police Department (CPD) include:

  • Traffic/highway safety
  • Records
  • Patrol
  • Metro drug unit
  • Special Enforcement
  • Criminal Investigation:

Special Enforcement Unit – The Special Enforcement Unit consists of undercover officers who respond to vice complaints with the objective of deterring street-level crimes like drug trafficking and prostitution. They work under the criminal investigation division and in cooperation with the Metro Drug Unit.

Criminal Investigation Division – The Investigation Division is staffed by 15 detectives:

  • Two supervisors (Chief and Assistant chief of detectives Lt. Steve Cooper and Sgt. Tony Hazelett respectively)
  • 10 Detective criminal investigators
  • Two detective crime scene investigators
  • One detective intelligence officer

The special investigators are responsible for following up on crimes reported to them by uniformed police officers. This division almost always handles violent crimes, property crimes involving substantial losses and recurring-pattern crimes.

Supervisors review the cases and assign them to specific detectives. Consideration is always given to “solvability,” i.e. factors such as known suspects, witnesses and physical evidence.

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