Detectives and Criminal Investigators

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Also known as:
Criminal Investigator, Deputy United States Marshal, FBI Investigator, Homicide Detective, Narcotics Detective, Narcotics Investigator, Police Detective

ABOUT DETECTIVE AND CRIMINAL INVESTIGATOR CAREERS
Video transcript

Whether investigating a murder or burglary, giving first aid, stopping a fight, or simply patrolling an area to prevent crime, few people are more vital to everyone's safety and wellbeing than police officers and detectives. Patrol-car police however, are only one part of the story. Some officers work behind the scenes as experts in fire-arms identification, handwriting and fingerprints, or microscopic analysis. Others are members of special emergency response teams.

After three to five years of experience, some police officers may be promoted to detective. Operating as plainclothes investigators, detectives gather facts and collect evidence for criminal cases. They interview witnesses, examine written records, conduct suspect surveillance, and interrogate prisoners.

It goes without saying that the work of both police officers and detectives can be dangerous. But people in this line of work have the satisfaction of knowing that they are making their cities, towns, and neighborhoods safer for everybody.

SNAPSHOT

Conduct investigations related to suspected violations of federal, state, or local laws to prevent or solve crimes.

Daily tasks

Check victims for signs of life, such as breathing and pulse.

Summon medical help for injured individuals and alert medical personnel to take statements from them.

Maintain surveillance of establishments to obtain identifying information on suspects.

Secure deceased body and obtain evidence from it, preventing bystanders from tampering with it prior to medical examiner's arrival.

Organize scene search, assigning specific tasks and areas of search to individual officers and obtaining adequate lighting as necessary.

Perform undercover assignments and maintain surveillance, including monitoring authorized wiretaps.

Testify before grand juries concerning criminal activity investigations.

Block or rope off scene and check perimeter to ensure that entire scene is secured.

Secure persons at scene, keeping witnesses from conversing or leaving the scene before investigators arrive.

Provide information to lab personnel concerning the source of an item of evidence and tests to be performed.

Note, mark, and photograph location of objects found, such as footprints, tire tracks, bullets and bloodstains, and take measurements of the scene.

MAIN ACTIVITIES
Getting Information Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
Making Decisions and Solving Problems Analyzing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution and solve problems.
Performing for or Working Directly with the Public Performing for people or dealing directly with the public. This includes serving customers in restaurants and stores, and receiving clients or guests.
Documenting/Recording Information Entering, transcribing, recording, storing, or maintaining information in written or electronic/magnetic form.
Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates Providing information to supervisors, co-workers, and subordinates by telephone, in written form, e-mail, or in person.
Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events Identifying information by categorizing, estimating, recognizing differences or similarities, and detecting changes in circumstances or events.
Communicating with Persons Outside Organization Communicating with people outside the organization, representing the organization to customers, the public, government, and other external sources. This information can be exchanged in person, in writing, or by telephone or e-mail.
Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge Keeping up-to-date technically and applying new knowledge to your job.
AREAS OF KNOWLEDGE
Law and Government Knowledge of laws, legal codes, court procedures, precedents, government regulations, executive orders, agency rules, and the democratic political process.
Public Safety and Security Knowledge of relevant equipment, policies, procedures, and strategies to promote effective local, state, or national security operations for the protection of people, data, property, and institutions.
Customer and Personal Service Knowledge of principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction.
English Language Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
Psychology Knowledge of human behavior and performance; individual differences in ability, personality, and interests; learning and motivation; psychological research methods; and the assessment and treatment of behavioral and affective disorders.
Education and Training Knowledge of principles and methods for curriculum and training design, teaching and instruction for individuals and groups, and the measurement of training effects.
Clerical Knowledge of administrative and clerical procedures and systems such as word processing, managing files and records, stenography and transcription, designing forms, and other office procedures and terminology.
Computers and Electronics Knowledge of circuit boards, processors, chips, electronic equipment, and computer hardware and software, including applications and programming.
TOP SKILLS
Active Listening Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
Critical Thinking Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.
Speaking Talking to others to convey information effectively.
Complex Problem Solving Identifying complex problems and reviewing related information to develop and evaluate options and implement solutions.
Social Perceptiveness Being aware of others' reactions and understanding why they react as they do.
Reading Comprehension Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.
Judgment and Decision Making Considering the relative costs and benefits of potential actions to choose the most appropriate one.
Writing Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.