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Police Investigator


Description

There are few careers out there that sound as intriguing, exciting, and dangerous as that of detective, or police investigator. Of all the movies and television shows that get made about the police, most of them deal with the investigators, those police officers who track down murderers, thieves, drug and prostitution rings and other offenders. They usually work in a detective department, like the sexual assault squad or the cold case squad, interviewing witnesses and suspects. Some police detectives, called forensic identification specialists, work behind the scenes in laboratories, using chemicals and dyes and tests to try and figure out how and a crime was committed using evidence found at the scene.

Investigators can provide information to other officers and prosecutors regarding firearms dealing, immigration enforcement, Internet abuse, fraud, missing persons investigations, as well as do undercover work to track information, evidence, and criminals.

Quite a lot of time is spent in the police precinct, completing paperwork. Police officers need to document each action they take in a criminal investigation, or any routine outreach they are involved in. This is important because other officers may deal with the same situation later, and want to know what action was taken previously. In a criminal investigation, detectives, lawyers, and judges will need to know details for court proceedings, and a police officer may be required to testify months or even years later - therefore, accurate notes are crucial.

Usually, investigators work in two-person investigative teams. Depending on their unit or division, they will travel the communities, answering calls from regular officers who have come across mysterious crime scenes, or following up tips and complaints made by citizens. Investigators work with other police, lawyers, and the government in order to protect all citizens and get justice for others.
 
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CDI College
Find an education partner totally committed to your success at CDI College.
Programs Offered:
  • Law Enforcement Foundations

 

 



  Average Earnings  
Lowest 10% of Earners:
$31,010
 
Median Salary:
$51,410
 
Highest 10% of Earners:
$80,380

  Interests and Skills  
Interested in a job in law enforcement? These individuals must be keen observers who notice details, good communicators who are able to speak with and listen to children, panicked victims, and suspects. They must be calm, and able to ask questions without frightening or alienating the person they are interviewing. A good understanding of the law and a desire to see justice done properly are important qualities. They should be interested in problem-solving, conflict resolution, and negotiation and have an interest in working with the community to stop criminal cycles. Honesty, maturity, integrity, and a non-sexist, culturally open attitude are tremendous assets to a successful police officer. Computer skills are also required.
 

  Typical Tasks  
  • Lead, conduct, or support investigations
  • Look into mysterious deaths and disappearances
  • Investigate organizations involved in the trafficking and importation of drugs
  • Monitor the activities of high-risk parolees and career criminals
  • Investigate illegal gambling, theft and other illegal activities
  • Analyze evidence
  • Support other law enforcement agencies in planning and conducting specialized investigations
  • Keep reports of all activities
  • An investigator will not spend every day looking at dead bodies and tracking organized crime bosses. More likely, the day will be spent in the police department, researching past cases, documenting recent events, and meeting with other investigators. When crimes and suspects are under investigation investigators will be traveling throughout the city, following up tips or ideas, tracking down witnesses and informants.

  Workplaces, Employers and Industries  
  • Police investigators are employed by police forces. Those working in smaller towns may act as both a regular officer and as an investigator.

  Long Term Career Potential  
As a trained police officer, a police investigator can always stay with the force, moving up the ranks to supervisory roles within the department. There is also the possibility or joining another type of police or investigation unit, like forensics or highway police. And then there is always the possibility of leaving the field altogether and becoming a consultant for movies and TV, a private investigator, or a security consultant.
 

  Educational Paths  
Police investigators must first become regular officers. To do this, one must apply to a police force. While it is not required, some level of postsecondary education may enhance an applicant's chances of gaining employment with a police force. Aspiring police investigators may choose to attend a community college to obtain diploma in law enforcement or police foundations, or may decide to obtain university degree.

The length of the training program to become an officer will vary depending according to the type of police force.

Once employed with a police force, officers can be promoted to an investigative position after gaining experience.
 

Sources:
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment Statistics, 2002, http://www.bls.gov/oes/2002/oes_nat.htm

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