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Career advice: A frustrated trooper wanting to become an investigator

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  • Career advice: A frustrated trooper wanting to become an investigator

    I'm seeking others' thoughts here in case I'm missing something. Here's the short version.

    I'm a trooper with the Kansas Highway Patrol. We have our problems, but all in all, it's a great agency. I love working at the state level. We do some cool things like governor's security, aircraft, special response team, and we have task forces with F.B.I. and D.E.A. Unfortunately, like Oklahoma and Texas, our state level investigators are a separate agency, the Kansas Bureau of Investigation. Our guys just don't do investigations to the extent a detective does, and I've become frustrated with the lack of that option (I'm not the only one). While I didn't realize this at the beginning of my career, I now know that I want to work full time in investigations, and preferably counter-terrorism after my thesis and studies in university.

    Now I'm wondering what to do. Our FBI task force positions are hard to come by, and we only have three guys in the agency who do it. My lieutenant has told me he wishes the agency provided an investigations career path and that they should, but with things as they are, I will not satisfy my investigative itch with my agency. As of now, this is who I have applied for (either in the past or presently).

    Kansas Bureau of Investigation - problem is they tend to want people who are already detectives with experience in felony cases, wiretaps, surveillance and sting operations, although some troopers have joined in the past.
    Missouri State Highway Patrol - since they do have the state investigators in their agency, and it would be closer to the wife's family. But it would also be a minimum of four years from now before I could actually start working investigations.
    FBI - would love to, but must keep in mind what is best for family as well with the outlook of being moved across the country (wife is 100% supportive, but I still wonder if the life is best for her).
    Secret Service - Would prefer F.B.I. over them, but also think I should be open to lots of options at the application stage.

    We have a new colonel who is not afraid to make changes, but with resistance from the brass and the K.B.I., I'm skeptical of whether we will add/merge an investigations division. Those four agencies are the main ones I've looked at.

    Does anyone here see some options I'm missing? I'm open to thoughts. Thanks, and stay safe.

  • #2
    Have you thought about going to a major metro area? No matter what you do, you will be starting over, so you are not going to get out of putting in your time all over again.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Lassiter 45 View Post
      I'm seeking others' thoughts here in case I'm missing something. Here's the short version.

      I'm a trooper with the Kansas Highway Patrol. We have our problems, but all in all, it's a great agency. I love working at the state level. We do some cool things like governor's security, aircraft, special response team, and we have task forces with F.B.I. and D.E.A. Unfortunately, like Oklahoma and Texas, our state level investigators are a separate agency, the Kansas Bureau of Investigation. Our guys just don't do investigations to the extent a detective does, and I've become frustrated with the lack of that option (I'm not the only one). While I didn't realize this at the beginning of my career, I now know that I want to work full time in investigations, and preferably counter-terrorism after my thesis and studies in university.

      Now I'm wondering what to do. Our FBI task force positions are hard to come by, and we only have three guys in the agency who do it. My lieutenant has told me he wishes the agency provided an investigations career path and that they should, but with things as they are, I will not satisfy my investigative itch with my agency. As of now, this is who I have applied for (either in the past or presently).

      Kansas Bureau of Investigation - problem is they tend to want people who are already detectives with experience in felony cases, wiretaps, surveillance and sting operations, although some troopers have joined in the past.
      Missouri State Highway Patrol - since they do have the state investigators in their agency, and it would be closer to the wife's family. But it would also be a minimum of four years from now before I could actually start working investigations.
      FBI - would love to, but must keep in mind what is best for family as well with the outlook of being moved across the country (wife is 100% supportive, but I still wonder if the life is best for her).
      Secret Service - Would prefer F.B.I. over them, but also think I should be open to lots of options at the application stage.

      We have a new colonel who is not afraid to make changes, but with resistance from the brass and the K.B.I., I'm skeptical of whether we will add/merge an investigations division. Those four agencies are the main ones I've looked at.

      Does anyone here see some options I'm missing? I'm open to thoughts. Thanks, and stay safe.
      You should look at KCK. They have an opening for a few more days and allow laterals. You won't start as a detective, but you will be eligible within a few years, and as you know, there is no shortage of crime in Wyandotte County.

      Good luck with KBI. Last I checked, they want a current law enforcement certification and 6 or more years of felony level investigative experience before you will be looked at.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by jondw View Post
        You should look at KCK. They have an opening for a few more days and allow laterals. You won't start as a detective, but you will be eligible within a few years, and as you know, there is no shortage of crime in Wyandotte County.

        Good luck with KBI. Last I checked, they want a current law enforcement certification and 6 or more years of felony level investigative experience before you will be looked at.
        Thanks. I only made it to the first interview last time, but at least that means I meet the minimum qualifications.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Lassiter 45 View Post
          Thanks. I only made it to the first interview last time, but at least that means I meet the minimum qualifications.
          As someone who is also an aspiring investigator, I wouldn't limit yourself as much. The FBI and USSS will most likely move you around. With the USSS in particular (and depending on your assignment with the FBI), you'll spend a lot of time travelling as well. Some people like that aspect, but some people don't, and it can definitely be hard on a family. There are tons of agencies who hire investigators, though, and some of them have openings for a specific location (so you'll know where you'd go if you get hired). There are also agencies (smaller ones like the OIGs) where, from what I have read, despite having to sign a mobility agreement, agents rarely have to move unless they want to.

          Obviously know the agency's mission before applying, but if you think you'd enjoy an agency and they have an opening for which you're eligible, apply. At least, if you get picked up, you'll have your foot in the door with investigations.

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          • #6
            Take a look at the 1811 positions in USAJOBS numerous agencies have them. However be careful not sure if you know or not just throwing it off you a lot of the 1811 positions such as say the VA or others do mostly internal employee investigations and those type things. But there are tons of 1811 options out there. But you better be willing to move for most of them.

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            • #7
              If you're not afraid to move (USSS, FBI) look at some places over here (northern va) this is mecca of fed level law enforcement. I'm with VA State Police. Here our SA's are a promotion from Trooper. As a trooper you can initiate whatever criminal case you want and roll with it if you prefer. So as a Trooper you can get vast investigation experience and either promote within to investigations or just jump to another agency. Plus side is VSP has almost a revolving door from us to feds, and feds to us. The task force I work with has almost every alphabet agency on it here. I find most guys that leave us return not long after. Freedom and less political theater with us than the feds.

              oh yea if you become a fed over here (usss) live in VA not MD. MD is pretty much communist.
              Last edited by FTRthnU; 07-12-2015, 10:40 PM.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by FTRthnU View Post
                If you're not afraid to move (USSS, FBI) look at some places over here (northern va) this is mecca of fed level law enforcement. I'm with VA State Police. Here our SA's are a promotion from Trooper. As a trooper you can initiate whatever criminal case you want and roll with it if you prefer. So as a Trooper you can get vast investigation experience and either promote within to investigations or just jump to another agency. Plus side is VSP has almost a revolving door from us to feds, and feds to us. The task force I work with has almost every alphabet agency on it here. I find most guys that leave us return not long after. Freedom and less political theater with us than the feds.

                oh yea if you become a fed over here (usss) live in VA not MD. MD is pretty much communist.
                Thanks. I've applied to another state patrol actually, and I believe what you say about the political theater. I do enjoy state for sure. Our new superintendent is not afraid to shake things up, and he's mentioned considering making us a state patrol where the special agents are the investigators (they're in a separate agency at this time). Unfortunately, we also have some task forces, but there's only about five positions statewide.

                Honestly, sounds like you work for a fine agency, and I wish we were similar in that way.

                And thanks for the living tip. I'd hate the commute, but when I interned with the senate, I stayed with a friend who lived in Arlington and commuted every day. Worked for him, partly because of the housing price difference.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by just joe View Post
                  Have you thought about going to a major metro area? No matter what you do, you will be starting over, so you are not going to get out of putting in your time all over again.
                  I did make a switch within my agency from working rural to a major metro area. If I were starting over, I'm not sure I would request the metro (looking at the long haul) but it's certainly fun. More felony cases that's for sure.

                  One thing did make me feel better. I was talking to a local PD officer about a case of mine. I felony stopped a woman who had a stolen vehicle. Reporting party could not produce a title saying the dealer never sent it, and the woman I stopped had one at her house printed in her name. So we released the vehicle to her. Now the original dealer has contacted me saying they have the original title and want to repo the car. I'll be doing the follow up investigation meeting with folks starting this week. My friend said he wouldn't be allowed to do the follow up. He'd have to give it to his PD detectives to handle. So that did make me feel better about my current position.

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                  • #10
                    Brief update. I've found our attorney general has his own team of special agents so I'm looking into that too.

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                    • #11
                      Lassiter, you have "the itch." After about four years in uniform, I was ready to do almost anything to get into plainclothes. I wound up taking a job with a state agency that I hated. I eventually broke into the feds.

                      I know what you're going through. A good first step is to look for something in your state so you can perhaps stay in the same retirement system and you don't completely lose the time you spent on the job. State AG jobs, inspector general jobs, and the like can give you investigative experience to possibly get into the KBI.

                      If you want to get into the feds, look hard at Secret Service, Diplomatic Security and other agent jobs that don't rely completely on investigations. They'd be more likely to pick up a trooper like you without investigative experience. The only problem is that they can assign you anywhere in the U.S. (or for DSS, anywhere in the world).

                      My general advice is that unless you're dead set on being a fed, first look around you carefully (your agency and other state agencies) and then fan out. Losing your time in service can sometimes be a painful move. Tough decisions you have to make.

                      Good luck.
                      They Don’t Think It Be Like It Is, But It Do.

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                      • #12
                        Thanks GoldBadge. I appreciate the encouragement, and I think that's good advise. I am looking at various options in my state. Am I dead set on Feds? Not necessarily. I did decide to apply to FBI and Secret Service at their last openings. But I think there could be great investigative options in state too. Our current pay situation makes me wonder if I should leave the state and start over somewhere else. And yes, that would be painful. If that happens it will probably be in 2016. If that is the right move, better now that in five years.

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                        • #13
                          Brief update. I had an initial interview today for a special agent position with the attorney general's office. I'll post if anything comes of it. My last two special agent interviews were fruitless so we shall see.

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