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Do I have to be promoted to become a detective?

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Danny’s Answer

Hi Patricia and Merry Christmas.

Yes, Dennis is correct! In the United States and California specifically you must test to promote to any rank, and "detective" or "investigator" is traditionally considered a "rank" in most agencies. Some smaller agencies sometimes use the rank of "Corporal" and have no "detective" rank. They use "detective" as an assignment. However, you still have to promote to the rank of Corporal. Of my 30+ years of Southern California law enforcement, 18 of those were at the rank of detective. Of those, I was assigned to homicide for 16 years.

To promote to detective, I had to take a written test, pass it and then take an oral exam. The oral exam was administered by both people from my department as well as other departments to eliminate undue influence. Preformance evaluations also were considered.

I fell in love with homicide and did not want to promote any further but the process would have been the same for each rank (Sergeant, Lieutenant, Captain, etc.)

Hope this helps.
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Pooja’s Answer

No you do not have to be promoted to become detective. You should be able to analyze and have eye to detail, good observation and quick decision making ability.
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DENNIS’s Answer

Hi Pamala: I am a New York lawyer so this is out of my field. However, from my experience - yes. Most, if not all. Municiple police forces require you to take and pass a physical and mental exam. Once on the force you need to pass exams offered to advance. Each Department is different. However it is extremely unlikely you can start off as a detective without being a regular officer first. Good luck - study hard and keep your nose clean and you'll get there before you know it!
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