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  1. #1
    flyer2007 is offline Rookie
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    Typical Process for Homicide Detective?

    Hi-

    Just curious if anyone could tell me what the typical process is to become a homicide detective. I am applying to several police departments, and my ultimate goal is to eventually become a homicide detective. I would assume it is very competitive, but is there testing for the job? Is there a standardized test, or does each department have their own? Can someone typically apply for this after a couple years on patrol?

    Any and all info would be greatly appreciated. Thank you for your help!

  2. #2
    Cidp24's Avatar
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    Your question is very hard to answer because it's so broad. The best I can do is say that in order to be any kind of detective with any department, you have to pay your dues on uniform patrol first. Now, depending on the dept size and call volume, which would directly effect the time you have to spend on a report, DO GOOD REPORTS!! I cont care if it is a barking dog report. Do the best you can and do it in-depth. For reports that you feel will later be used by a detective, make sure all the suspect, witness, victim, property loss info etc is accurate and detailed. All of this will get you noticed, especially in a small to mid sized department. Do your own follow-ups when you can. If you catch a report and get helpful info that you can follow up on your own, go ahead and do it, add that to the report.

    Many uniform officers are just secretaries. They go take info and copy it down, turn it in, no investigating. Problem is, you cheat yourself by doing this by losing the experience and the opportunity to get noticed for thourough work.

    Watch the CSIs and Detectives at major scenes. Most of them, if not imersed in work at the moment, will be glad to answer questions for you. Get to know some of the guys in the division you are shooting for so that they will know your face and so they will note your interest.

    Request to go to any and all crimes scene and basic investigation schools that come to your knowledge.

    Most of the departments I know of have competetitive processes for detective which includes examples of past work or reports, work history, written tests and oral interviews. I dont know of any that have a standard written tests but I suspect they do exist in large depts.
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  3. #3
    flyer2007 is offline Rookie
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    Sorry that my question was so broad. I sometimes have a hard time determining if I am asking the correct questions. Thanks a ton for your very detailed response though; it was very helpful!

  4. #4
    MacLean's Avatar
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    I'm not a detective, but I had this conversation with ours.

    +1 on the reports

    They also said to develop time management skills and detail orientation skills.
    I'm your huckleberry...

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  5. #5
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    You need to be a GREAT patrol officer first.

    My department requires a min. of 3 yrs. full time experience on patrol before getting into investigations. We don't have a homicide division, so that length of time will vary from agency to agency.

    If you can't write stellar reports, you will likely have no chance.
    No one has greater love than this, to lay down ones life for ones friends - John 15:13

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    The opinions, beliefs, and ideas expressed in this post are mine, and mine alone. They are NOT the opinions, beliefs, ideas, or policies of my Agency, Police Chief, City Council, or any member of my department.

  6. #6
    Car 4's Avatar
    Car 4 is offline CID Chief
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    Homicide info

    After years working homicide and running major crimes units, I finally had to retire for health reasons. Shortly after I did, Bob Keppel hired me to do research into homicide units all over the country. I traveled all over the country and spoke at length with such units filling out an intensive questionaire. The purpose of this research was to help establish a computer program called "Murder Book" which would aid detectives in handling information in major or very large cases.

    I discovered a number of things about such units....

    First of all, it is different everywhere. Phoenix only asks that you be on patrol for 3 years. No offense boys but you havn't even learned how to be a patrol officer in 3 years. Others require much longer and serious CID experience before being considered.

    One of the principle reasons that it is so different is the federal funding that so many agencies received in the late 60's and early 70's. Hundreds of large agencies hired thousands of cops during that time. Most were vets and turned out to be some of the best cops to come along in decades. They are now all retiring and to fill those ranks in the upper levels of CID, many agencies are forced to lower their requirements.

    Schooling is also different everywhere. Some units train OJT and others send you to some very good schools. Some pair you with a senior detective and others throw you in the deep end of the pool the first day. Some provide careful oversight and others read your case file and then call you names. The truth of it is that if you are a dead guy, your chances of getting justice depend on just how good the agency, CID unit, detective and their supervisor actually is. And that varies hugely accross the country.

    I don't want to bore you with the rest of the study but here it is if you want to get into major crimes in my old agency.

    Five years on patrol handling both misdeameanor and low class felony investigations. Great report writing skils. Great communication skills. Good follow up skills and lots of initiative.

    Three to five years in a precinct based CID unit such as Burg/Larc/Auto Theft. Excellent record in this assignment as well as all the schooling you can get.

    Three years in CID in any one of a dozen specialities but preferably Major Crimes. Basic and advanced Homicide School, Crime Scene School, Reid School of Interview (one and two) and some time with the Medical Examiner. Other schools such as the FBI Academy or technical schools are a plus.

    Once in, you are paired with a senior detective for a period of time (depends on you) and are mentored by one of the supervisors. Once established, you can stay as long as you like because you have paid too many dues to just be pushed out in a few years.

    Think this is too much? The last two years I had CID, we had a 100% solution rate for our homicides.

    You may not have to do this.....but think about how to make yourself attractive to such a unit and I think you will find most of these things on the list.

    Car 4
    I would like my country back. I used to believe that one man could never destroy this country. Not so sure anymore!

  7. #7
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    ^^^^^^^


    Any further questions regarding anything law enforcement, ask that guy.


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  8. #8
    flyer2007 is offline Rookie
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    Outstanding information, thanks a ton! I am willing to pay my dues for as long as needed and enjoy the ride along the way. Just trying to go ahead and look at what I need to do to accomplish my long term goals also, and the information provided has helped a ton and given me things that I can think about each and every day.

  9. #9
    Jks9199 is online now The Reason People Hate Cops & Causer of War
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    Just to throw my two cents in...

    Like has been said, it's really different in each agency. Not all agencies have dedicated homicide detectives; some fortunately don't have enough to support even one dedicated detective, others just spread homicides around the guys & gals who do other major crimes.

    Generally, to become a detective, you want to develop a solid reputation as a patrol officer who makes good cases, writes good paper (maybe you're catching a theme here...), and has shown that they can handle a pretty straightforward case. Different agencies will allow patrol to work cases to differing degrees; take as much advantage of this as you can, and work the cases that you can. Even when you can't work a case, offer to help the detectives that are -- even if it's just watching for a particular car at an address as you cruise by on patrol. If you can, take advantage of temporary assignments with various detective squads to learn how they work. Auto theft is different from narcs, which is different from gangs, which is different from burglary...

    Then, if and when you make a detective squad, go out of your way to do thorough, careful, and complete investigations. Show that you can handle the minor cases exceedingly well, and eventually, you'll be trusted with the big cases.

  10. #10
    Resident Smart Ass's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by flyer2007 View Post
    Outstanding information, thanks a ton! I am willing to pay my dues for as long as needed and enjoy the ride along the way. Just trying to go ahead and look at what I need to do to accomplish my long term goals also, and the information provided has helped a ton and given me things that I can think about each and every day.

    Also

    don't forget to bring tons of coffee and donuts to your FTO and Chief everyday and while you're at it, you can bring me some.

    Best of Luck and Welcome to LEF
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  11. #11
    Kpdpipes is offline Master Officer
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    Quote Originally Posted by flyer2007 View Post
    Outstanding information, thanks a ton! I am willing to pay my dues for as long as needed and enjoy the ride along the way. Just trying to go ahead and look at what I need to do to accomplish my long term goals also, and the information provided has helped a ton and given me things that I can think about each and every day.
    It CANNOT Be mentioned enough..REPORT WRITING!!!!!!!

    Buy a copy of Strunk's "Elements of Style" take writing courses, Use a Dictionary, and Thesaurus..DO NOT use Idiom or slang in your reports. the rest you have to pick up through experience to know how much detail you need to include for each individual case. There are some High-end Jobs that you can write a relatively simple report for..and there are some BS jobs that take 2 pages by the time you get the necessary details documented. There are several reasons for this, and Frankly your goal of becoming a Det is Low on the scale. #1 Reason to write good reports is self-preservation. A Poorly written report with Grammar and spelling errors gives an Attorney TONS of room to predjudice your testimony on competency grounds, and make you look ridiculous, weakening your case and testimony..in some cases letting a bad guy get off through YOUR failure..You could have done the Job like Joe Friday, but if its inarticulate and has a lot of errors, it wont matter. Also, A Poorly written report can get you Indicted..a Co-worker of mine went to Prison for almost 8 years on Civil Rights violations charges..the ONLY reason the feds were able to convict him is that his really poor report writing skills (every report read pretty much exactly the same) allowed them to build a case of a Pattern of Abuse, and swayed the jury into thinking that he was nothing but a mindless thug.

  12. #12
    Rhino's Avatar
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    1. Be a cop.
    2. Wait for an opening in your agency.
    3. ??????
    4. Profit.
    "If everyone is thinking alike, then someone isn't thinking." -Gen. George S. Patton

  13. #13
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    First off do your time in patrol first, which in most places is mandatory anyways. Here you have to take a test, and if you pass that test you become a detective. There are a few sides to our Detectives, gangs, Violent Crimes (Homicide, Shootings and so on), Special Victims Unit (Domestic shite, Juvenile shite), and Property Crimes (burglaries, Thefts, Check forgeries and so on). You get tossed around until they want you in Violent Crimes.
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  14. #14
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    Coloradocop is offline It's the PoPo
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    The basic requirments in my department are as follows:

    1) approximately 3.5 years in patrol before you are elligible for CID (detective) training

    2) Complete detective training, then wait for a spot to become available in the Crimes Against Persons division (usually you will go to Assaults or DOMV to start)

    Obviously, report writing skills are very important for these types of positions, and you really don't stand a chance of getting there if you can't articulate yourself. I'd also say that you are probably looking at a minimum of five years before you could pull such an assignment.

    The time frame I mentioned above is our minimum time frame... Often times low seniority will make you wait longer than the 3.5 years just to have the opportunity to train for detective positions and such!

  15. #15
    narcodog is offline Rookie
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    Some of the best Investigators were the best ass kissers. Or got into more trouble without being fired than anyone else.

  16. #16
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    My brother works for a small department that has investigators that do it all- that is, from burglaries to homicides. He has always had a knack for seeing past the obvious, and getting to the truth. He always wrote a great report with a lot of detail and worked the case as far as a patrol deputy could.
    Someone above put it best: don't be a secretary.

  17. #17
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    In my dept., you have to be promoted to detective and then work for at least several years in other criminal investigations.

    First, you have to prove to be a hard worker and able to stick to an investigation after the first week, month, perhaps year or so. Homicides are meticulous so you have to be good on details. You also have to be proficient in writing search warrants, etc. You have to be a good interrogator and have a history of being able to get confessions and admissions.

    The last thing we want is an ass kisser. They don't last long and are quickly weeded out. In my dept., the homicide detectives are a close knit group and if someone isn't cutting it, everyone knows. Some cops I know look at homicide detectives that way, but they are generally marginal cops to begin with and it's sour grapes.

    A lot of people get promoted and think homicide is what they want to do. But they usually realize it ain't all sunglasses and autographs. You have to work your ass off. As an example, just about every homicide requires you working 24 hours straight, at least because that's when you're going to get the best info. And you will be under pressure to get it solved. Not finding who did a burglary isn't that big a deal, letting a killer run loose is a whole new ball game.

    I worked it about 5 years and then voluntarily transfered out. I loved the work, but after hitting 50 years old, I couldn't handle the hours and pressure as well as I used to.
    When I used to be somebody (I'm center top)

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  18. #18
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    Learn how to be a steet level patrol officer and don't jump at the first chance at doing exclusive investigative work. I did and I can say that on the job training sucks. Take your time at your first assignment. You never know you may like that one better. Trust me. I've went full circle.
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  19. #19
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    my personal opinion is that you should spend 5-7 years minimum on patrol before even thinking about moving to ANY specialized unit.
    in the warriors code there's no surrender, though his body says stop, his spirit cries...NEVER. deep in our souls, a quiet ember, knows its you against you, its the paradox that drives us all. its a battle of wills, in the heat of attack, its the passion that kills, and victory is yours alone.


    the posts and opinions stated by me do not in any way reflect the values, beliefs, or views of my department. they are simply opinions and/or observations which have been developed through my personal experiences. hell, most of the stories probably arent even true...wink wink

  20. #20
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    It has been said: REPORT WRITING. I can only add - yep.
    Commentary: you are, or will be, evaluated by the quality of your written work. Your written work goes out to others outside the dept. Is that report over your signature as good as you are? Is it as good as your personal check?

    Along with the other desirable qualities: ASK GOOD QUESTIONS, and expect answers. I have reviewed police reports where the writer was just doing a form, just written into a box without asking why.

    Schools: Reid is absolutely a must. Evidence - proper procedures and documentation of
    evidence and proof of chain of custody. Collision reconstruction is good because the methods of precisely documenting any crime scene are there. The math, physics, graphs, etc. are also apppicable to more glamoroius stuff like bullets, kinetic energy, someone getting pushed off a bridge, or plane, etc...etc.

    Sketching and skill with a camera. I attended a post mortem with an unfamiliar borrowed empty camera. My boss chewed my butt, then sent me to an FBI photography course. Good info, but spun up a bit as "FBI is the only way". Get experienced, use a camera regularly on the little stuff. Take pics of cars, suspects, witnesses, people "hanging around" who just look wierd, you might need it. Keep an accurate log of your photos and settings. Refer to photos in your sketches. Composition of photos is both a skill and art form. Just like a dash-cam, photos can save the day or your butt. Digital cameras will spare you the indignity of justifying the use of every roll of 35mm film. Someone at HQ now has more time at the water-cooler. Win-win.

    Computer skills. No comment offered as I am on the low side of semi-literate. Get used to the "total station" survey equipment.

    Know how criminals think. You don't need a lot of Psych classes, just understand the word "GREED" and the rest follows: motive, opportunity, means. Talk to criminals, learn how they live. Develop informants.

    Above all: ask why...?
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