Police detectives are specialized police officers tasked with investigating crimes, collecting evidence, and compiling data with the goal of making a successful arrest. Unlike regular police officers, they don't wear department issued uniforms and instead dress in plain clothes*.
The average police detective has to juggle several cases at once and is required to handle all of them in a professional manner. Common tasks include interviewing witnesses, questioning suspects, making arrests, overseeing crime scenes, and testifying in court. Detectives must be able to work as part of a team with other professionals within the police department, as they are generally required to share information with the forensics teams and law enforcement from other agencies*.
In general, it is required by most departments that individuals wishing to become a police detective first spend several months up to several years working as a patrol officer. This helps for them to gain a better understanding of how law enforcement works. Once individuals have finished paying their dues, they may then begin pursuing a promotion to the detective level. Typically, additional training and education are required in order to be eligible for a police detective position. The individual requirements, however, differ from one police department to the next. While the bare minimum level of education is typically just a high school diploma, the amount of training required for the position can be substantial**.
The work environment for a police detective is not only physically demanding, but it is also dangerous. Several of these detectives are interacting with violent criminals on a daily basis as part of ongoing investigations. The work may also be very stressful, as some departments have tight budgets which require individual detectives to carry heavy caseloads. It is the kind of burden that few people can withstand for long periods of time**.
The typical salary for a police detective is around $56,980 per year. This varies widely depending on both the region where the detective is working and the department. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, demand for police detective work may be slower in the years to come when compared to the average profession. While there is still a growing need for law enforcement personnel, much of this has shifted from local to both state and federal levels. So while the positions may become fewer and more competitive in the next decade, those who have the motivation and persistence to qualify for detective work will continue to find it**.
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*For more information, please visit: http://www.criminaljusticeschoolinfo.com/police-detective-job-description.html
**For more information, please visit: http://www.bls.gov/ooh/Protective-Service/Police-and-detectives.htm