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after i’m a police officer how do i become a homicide detective?

i’m so confused do i go to school while i’m an officer or what? plus what’s the college degree do i need

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Subject: Career question for you

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Herbert’s Answer

I have to agree with Lt Dunnigan on the amount of time and building experience on the street. Another thing that should be mentioned is a college degree in Criminal Justice is a definite help here. I went to college and got my college degree (Bachelors)after I got out of the military. Then it was police academy for 6 months. I was in patrol for about 5 years before I was assigned to investigations (SVU). During my first couple of years I did 6 months in CID and took at least one investigations course before I went in to Special Victims for 5 years. The work is rewarding but it can take a toll. I took a break from SVU and was in patrol for a couple of years before I went to Homicide working cold cases. I lasted for 2 years before I went back on the street and then did 2 more years in SVU. After that more patrol and I promoted to sergeant.
A college degree can also help immensely in case law, search and seizure (you will be doing a lot of writing (affadavits for warrants) if you make detective), interviews, crime scene analysis, chain of custody, evidence collection....the list goes on. Do not stop taking courses/classes when you graduate academy. I would recommend getting past your probationary period before you start looking to continue your education, especially if your are working in a large city.
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Michelle’s Answer

Hello, Serine !

I would be glad to share my thoughts and some advice on this subject with you. I will address your question assuming that you are still in high school.

My first piece of advice is definitely enroll in college and get your Bachelors Degree in Criminal Justice. Whether you go to a 2 year college first and get an Associate degree in Administration of Justice than to the 4 year college for 2 years to get the Bachelors in Criminal Justice does not matter, but get the Bachelors degree. I'll tell you why. At some point in your police officer or detective career, you may want to advance to an administrative position and this will greatly be in your favor to have the Bachelors Degree. It may also help with promotions as a police officer. So that is step one.

Step two, become a police officer following all the required training your town requires. Than you'll have to actively work as a police officer. In order to be promoted to detective, you will have had to be promoted within your police officer rank. It is usually about 4 or 5 years working in your promoted rank as a police officer that you than can then take a written test for detective. This is another reason why your Bachelors degree will help. Some police depts. require some detectives to have a certain number of hours of college courses. You will have to go for more training focusing on detective work that the department you work for would inform you of.

Sounds like you have a wonderful plan for your career and I do hope that this has been of some help. Best wishes to you in school and for a successful career !
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Adriana’s Answer

I would encourage you to go to a trusted supervisor or through the human resources department of your town/city.
If at this time you are not a police officer, ask this and other career advancement questions during your initial training.
Stay safe and thank you in advance for your service.
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Michelle’s Answer

To become a Detective does take some years being a police officer. You need to be comfortable communicating with the public you serve, your co-workers and your supervisors. Having great communication skills is key to being able to build trust with a suspect, a victim or a witness in a crime. I have to agree with the others here who have given you advice, getting a degree is a great start. Whether you go to school after graduating high school, or the police Academy...you need to stay on target for career advancement by getting a degree. Your best bet is a degree in Criminal Justice, either an Associates or Bachelors and those can be either a science degree or a fine arts degree. But a degree will give you more points when you do finally test for Detective or any other advancement...those points matter.
What I mean by points...is everyone gets points for longevity/ seniority (the longer you stay the more points you get. If you go back to school for a degree, you get more points. Then when you do test for advancement, those points, plus your score, will increase your chances of getting that promotion. I've seen people ace the tests, but not get promoted because they didn't have the points to increase their position on the list of possible promotion. So that degree will help. But take your time getting your degree.
Most people go to the police Academy or Detention Officer Academy right out of high school...and make it a career...over 20 years with the agency. But if your goal is Detective...get your basic years in and once eligible, you can start on the testing path for that change.
Being a Detective is cool, but you have to work your way to Homicide. This means you will have to work property crimes, narcotics and possibly Sex Crimes before you get to Homicide. But use your time in those areas to learn and improve your skills.
I know you can make this happen and I will be sending you positive thoughts for a successful outcome. Best of luck to you in your endeavors.
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James’s Answer

Just to add to some really good answers - The normal process is Academy, Field Training, Patrol Officer, Detective, then a specialized area of investigations. Patrol is critical because you develop important skills in dealing with people, interview/interrogation, etc. In Patrol, even though you wear a uniform, YOU are the first 'investigator' on scene. Decisions you make in assisting victims, apprehending suspects, preserving crime scene/evidence, identifying witnesses, will have a major impact on solving the case.

James recommends the following next steps:

Continue your education, and participate in a good fitness program.
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Daniel’s Answer

Becoming a detective and then a homicide detective is something that can take a while after becoming a police officer. It took me 9 years to promote to detective and then another 4 years as a detective working narcotics before I got to homicide. I loved the assignment but it does a toll on you in many ways. Being a detective takes time. Focus on your education right now and once you become a police officer hone those skills to make a you good street cop. Those skills will translate for you to be promoted to detective. If law enforcement is something you really want to do, go for it but don't be in a hurry to become a detective.
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