I wanna be a detective!
That's something a police sergeant or
lieutenant hears from every street cop. It seems few want to spend their career
pushing a black and white around their beat. While working the streets is a
great job, eventually you come a point that you want to do something else.
Perhaps, you want to be a detective. Here's some good advice on getting a
Education is the best part-time
You're career is under your control. If it
is drifting it is because you are
letting it drift. So, take the wheel. A great first step is to get an
undergraduate degree. Take a look at my article "Why
a Degree in Criminal Justice?"
Then, consider, an interview panel doesn't care what courses you took. They
aren't going to ask you about your undergraduate class in criminological
theory. However, they are going to know, and you are going to tell them that an
undergraduate degree says:
1. You can work
2. You can work in
3. You can manage
4. You can manage a
long term plan.
5. You are capable of
6. You can read and
write at the college level.
7. You were exposed
to different cultures
Talk to everybody
Doesn't that sound like a first class detective?
While you are working on your
undergraduate degree work on your skills as a police officer. About halfway
through my probation on the department I responded to a homicide scene. A man
had been stabbed to death on a street corner. Like the typical blue suit, I put
the tape up, started the log and called the detectives. They came and
investigated. Even though it happened in broad daylight no one saw a thing.
detectives detected and then went away. I spent the next few weeks going
back to that street corner. There were several retired men who hung out
nearby. Even though I was a much younger and a different race, I talked to
them everyday. We chatted about boxing, cars and other stuff. I knew
they knew who did the murder. After several weeks of chatting I asked the
question. One of the men said, Officer, if I knew, Id tell you. He
emphasized the you. Another man said, You would? The second
man told me everything. In 24 hours, the suspect and the weapon were in
custody. The point is that detective work is about talking to people.
Hone your skills now.
Start detecting now
the detective squad bay and ask for some work! Ask them if there is a
witness you can interview during your shift or something simple you can do.
At first they will have you running down supplemental property reports between
radio calls. But, after a while they will give you very cool stuff to do.
And, they will remember. You are putting in your time, learning the ropes
and making contacts. If you work graveyards, before you go home, go ask.
about working traffic. Traffic investigations are relatively unknown
fast-track to detectives. Every traffic accident is a crime scene.
You recover evidence, interview witness, make diagrams, draw conclusions, etc.
But, unlike your typical patrol investigation, a traffic investigation is often
handled from crime scene to filing by the traffic cop. And, a fatal
traffic accident is a potential homicide. Where else can you get homicide
experience working in uniform?
you wanna be a detective? You can, but you have to work for it.