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Details for Police Detectives


Conduct investigations to prevent crimes or solve criminal cases.


  • Examine crime scenes to obtain clues and evidence, such as loose hairs, fibers, clothing, or weapons.
  • Secure deceased body and obtain evidence from it, preventing bystanders from tampering with it prior to medical examiner's arrival.
  • Obtain evidence from suspects.
  • Provide testimony as a witness in court.
  • Analyze completed police reports to determine what additional information and investigative work is needed.
  • Prepare charges or responses to charges, or information for court cases, according to formalized procedures.
  • Note, mark, and photograph location of objects found, such as footprints, tire tracks, bullets and bloodstains, and take measurements of the scene.
  • Obtain facts or statements from complainants, witnesses, and accused persons and record interviews, using recording device.
  • Obtain summary of incident from officer in charge at crime scene, taking care to avoid disturbing evidence.
  • Examine records and governmental agency files to find identifying data about suspects.
  • Prepare and serve search and arrest warrants.
  • Block or rope off scene and check perimeter to ensure that entire scene is secured.
  • Summon medical help for injured individuals and alert medical personnel to take statements from them.
  • Provide information to lab personnel concerning the source of an item of evidence and tests to be performed.
  • Monitor conditions of victims who are unconscious so that arrangements can be made to take statements if consciousness is regained.
  • Secure persons at scene, keeping witnesses from conversing or leaving the scene before investigators arrive.
  • Preserve, process, and analyze items of evidence obtained from crime scenes and suspects, placing them in proper containers and destroying evidence no longer needed.
  • Record progress of investigation, maintain informational files on suspects, and submit reports to commanding officer or magistrate to authorize warrants.
  • Take photographs from all angles of relevant parts of a crime scene, including entrance and exit routes and streets and intersections.
  • Organize scene search, assigning specific tasks and areas of search to individual officers and obtaining adequate lighting as necessary.
  • Question individuals or observe persons and establishments to confirm information given to patrol officers.
  • Notify, or request notification of, medical examiner or district attorney representative.
  • Note relevant details upon arrival at scene, such as time of day and weather conditions.
  • Participate or assist in raids and arrests.
  • Videotape scenes where possible, including collection of evidence, examination of victim at scene, and defendants and witnesses.
  • Coordinate with outside agencies and serve on interagency task forces to combat specific types of crime.
  • Maintain surveillance of establishments to obtain identifying information on suspects.
  • Notify command of situation and request assistance.
  • Schedule polygraph tests for consenting parties and record results of test interpretations for presentation with findings.
  • Check victims for signs of life, such as breathing and pulse.
  • Observe and photograph narcotic purchase transactions to compile evidence and protect undercover investigators.


  • Realistic - Realistic occupations frequently involve work activities that include practical, hands-on problems and solutions. They often deal with plants, animals, and real-world materials like wood, tools, and machinery. Many of the occupations require working outside, and do not involve a lot of paperwork or working closely with others.
  • Investigative - Investigative occupations frequently involve working with ideas, and require an extensive amount of thinking. These occupations can involve searching for facts and figuring out problems mentally.
  • Enterprising - Enterprising occupations frequently involve starting up and carrying out projects. These occupations can involve leading people and making many decisions. Sometimes they require risk taking and often deal with business.
  • Conventional - Conventional occupations frequently involve following set procedures and routines. These occupations can include working with data and details more than with ideas. Usually there is a clear line of authority to follow.

Education, Training, Experience

  • Education - Most occupations in this zone require training in vocational schools, related on-the-job experience, or an associate's degree.
  • Training - Employees in these occupations usually need one or two years of training involving both on-the-job experience and informal training with experienced workers. A recognized apprenticeship program may be associated with these occupations.
  • Experience - Previous work-related skill, knowledge, or experience is required for these occupations. For example, an electrician must have completed three or four years of apprenticeship or several years of vocational training, and often must have passed a licensing exam, in order to perform the job.


  • Personnel and Human Resources - Knowledge of principles and procedures for personnel recruitment, selection, training, compensation and benefits, labor relations and negotiation, and personnel information systems.
  • Sociology and Anthropology - Knowledge of group behavior and dynamics, societal trends and influences, human migrations, ethnicity, cultures and their history and origins.
  • Communications and Media - Knowledge of media production, communication, and dissemination techniques and methods. This includes alternative ways to inform and entertain via written, oral, and visual media.
  • Administration and Management - Knowledge of business and management principles involved in strategic planning, resource allocation, human resources modeling, leadership technique, production methods, and coordination of people and resources.
  • Therapy and Counseling - Knowledge of principles, methods, and procedures for diagnosis, treatment, and rehabilitation of physical and mental dysfunctions, and for career counseling and guidance.
  • Computers and Electronics - Knowledge of circuit boards, processors, chips, electronic equipment, and computer hardware and software, including applications and programming.
  • 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.
  • English Language - Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.


  • Reading Comprehension - Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.
  • 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.
  • Writing - Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.
  • Speaking - Talking to others to convey information effectively.
  • Critical Thinking - Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.
  • Active Learning - Understanding the implications of new information for both current and future problem-solving and decision-making.
  • Social Perceptiveness - Being aware of others' reactions and understanding why they react as they do.
  • Complex Problem Solving - Identifying complex problems and reviewing related information to develop and evaluate options and implement solutions.
  • Judgment and Decision Making - Considering the relative costs and benefits of potential actions to choose the most appropriate one.

Related Careers

  • Correctional Officers and Jailers
  • Criminal Investigators and Special Agents
  • Fire Inspectors
  • Fire Investigators
  • Immigration and Customs Inspectors
  • Private Detectives and Investigators
  • Security Guards
  • Sheriffs and Deputy Sheriffs
  • Transit and Railroad Police
Wages for this career
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