Missing persons investigators are licensed private investigators or sworn law enforcement officers who use standard police methods and specialized training to search for and locate people who have disappeared. Investigators may confront a variety of cases, including runaway children, potential or actual victims of kidnapping or other violent crimes, and persons with mental disabilities who have become lost. Investigators use digital and physical surveillance techniques, specialized database software, and interpersonal skills to solve cases.
Step 1: Graduate High School or College
Law enforcement investigators are usually required to complete some postsecondary coursework as well as build related work experience and graduate from a police academy. Federal agents are expected to graduate college.
Step 2: Complete Initial Training Programs
Individuals who want to work as missing persons investigators at local police departments will need to complete police academy training first. Each state has different academy requirements, but information from the BLS and police science training programs show that most trainees learn about emergency planning, state laws, resource management, firearms safety, patrol procedures, emergency medical services, civil rights, and self-defense. Federal agencies may also have separate training programs.
Step 2: Build Investigations Experience
Develop a broad range of experience. Missing persons cases may involve other areas, including white-collar crimes, insurance fraud, identity theft, or corporate espionage. Investigators should work in as many other fields as possible before they focus on missing persons.
Step 3: Obtain Missing Persons Training
There are some college courses that provide missing persons investigations training. Many of these courses are designed for emergency services providers or currently employed law enforcement agents. Private investigators may be eligible for enrollment, but some law enforcement experience is advised.
Step 4: Maintain Licenses, Continue Education, and Seek Promotions/Advancement
Police detectives or federal agents who work on missing persons squads have the opportunity to pursue supervisory or leadership positions and higher ranks, such as lieutenant or a special agent in charge (FBI). Those positions may require additional examinations, advanced degrees, and recommendations of superior officers.
Investigators may be required to work irregular hours, including nights and weekends, in order to complete their investigations as quickly as possible. The work associated with locating missing persons may be physically demanding as well as emotionally taxing. Investigators are often armed for protection against potentially dangerous criminals and other risks. Therefore, investigators must be able to remain patient during long surveillance sessions, maintain a high level of integrity, be creative with available resources, comfortable communicating with law enforcement and clients, and be able to work under immense pressure.
More detailed information in: http://study.com/articles/How_to_Become_a_Missing_Persons_Investigator.html
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