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  • Newbie question on joining the ranks

    So I'm in a position where I'd like to change careers (I'm a writer), so I investigated getting a degree in criminal justice and becoming a detective. However, I am unsure of what a detective entails - in my mind, it's a cop of sorts who gathers information on a case. I could be wrong about this, which is why I'm posting here.

    The problem I'm encountering is that I'm 41. I'm a rather young 41 in fine shape, but it seems that I've seen cut-offs for policemen at 37. But I'm not as interested in wearing a blue suit and badge as much as being a detective, so I guess my question is whether they're the same thing? Because I may be SOL due to my age, and I was never in the armed forces so I don't have that going for me either.

    Any advice would be appreciated because I would hate to pursue a criminal justice degree all for naught. And, FWIW, I'd consider forensic psychology if it's a great Plan B.....thanks!

  • #2
    Your age is irrelevant, your idea of what police do and how to become a detective are the problem.
    I see dumb people in the mirror.


    • #3
      Okay, so please school me as perhaps brevity was not my friend in my OP.

      In the end, I do have a sense of justice and order, which is what has led me to investigate this path. The NYC police force and the FBI have the 37 y-o cut-off but that may not be true for all areas of law enforcement.


      • #4
        You'll have to a street cop before being a detective. Your only chance of being a "detective" without being is street cop is the federal criminal investigator series (1811), however, those have the 37 years old cut-off.
        (='.'=) This is Ninja Bunny.
        Copy and paste Bunny into your
        signature to help him gain world domination


        • #5
          So then there is hope despite my age? That it may just depend on the jurisdiction?


          • #6
            Well, once more we really need to begin with the basics. Let's do the degree first. In reality, any degree will be of benefit to you in a law enforcement career. Just make sure it's not a degree in Aids Awareness, the History of Basketball, or some nonsense like that.

            We've done discussions on CJ degrees for ages, so I invite you to use the "search function" for further insights.

            Age. While 37 is the cut off for many agencies, your age really won't be a factor at other departments, provided you're in decent shape for all the physical phases of the hiring process. That would also include the academy should you be hired.

            With most agencies you'll begin in uniform. You'll shag calls, cut reports, work wrecks, take out the trash, and all the stuff cops do all around the world. After anywhere from three to five years, you may be given the opportunity to transfer to Investigations. There are usually no guarantees though.

            All of that said, now is the time for you to begin doing some detailed and in-depth research. Look for agencies which might afford you the opportunity to advance into the investigative ranks. Measure yourself objectively against a given department's established standards to see if you can make the grade.

            Be prepared for a lengthy and often frustrating and impersonal hiring process. This especially applies to large agencies with Civil Service hiring procedures.

            If you really feel you might want to enter this profession, now is the time to get started. While your age is not really "old", the clock is running. Good luck.


            • #7
              Originally posted by 442w30 View Post

              . But I'm not as interested in wearing a blue suit and badge as much as being a detective, so I guess my question is whether they're the same thing?
              Your chances of that happening are somewhere south impossible .

              Think of Detective as being a rank above police officer...........................While that is not exactly true , effectively it is the way things happen.

              A person starts out at the entry level "blue suit" and if they do a good job, are very good at their job, an opening arises for a detective, they apply and are selected to be "promoted" to detective.

              Originally posted by 442w30 View Post
              Any advice would be appreciated because I would hate to pursue a criminal justice degree all for naught. And, FWIW, I'd consider forensic psychology if it's a great Plan B.....thanks!
              I would strongly consider Plan B


              • #8
                Thank you for your feedback, Gentlemen.

                But @Iowa, why do you strongly suggest Plan B?


                • #9
                  If you REALLY want to go straight to "detective" there is a secret-not-talked-about-in-public way to do it. In whatever State you are in there are usually two routes. County level District Attorneys have investigators that are peace officers-usually with the same exact powers as street cops, but they don't do patrol. The other is State level investigations like: State Attorney General, Liquor/Alcohol Control, State Lotteries, DMVs, etc. These department all employ criminal investigators with full police powers and often require no prior street time AND do not do patrol.

                  Now, caveat time: I don't know their age requirements. DAs and Attorney Generals usually hire already employed police officers to be their investigators. If you go the other routes, be prepared to constantly explain yourself and your job to other cops and the general public everyday for the rest of your career. Many of these positions do not pay what city Cops get paid (that means less than city cops), rarely hire and often don't hire zero experienced people (they do the same thing the DAs and AGs do).

                  But every now and then, I run into a wet behind the ears 2nd career investigator.
                  semper destravit


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by 442w30 View Post
                    Thank you for your feedback, Gentlemen.

                    But @Iowa, why do you strongly suggest Plan B?
                    Because you are not going to become a detective without being a "blue suit with at badge" first


                    • #11
                      I don't mind being in a blue suit, but I just didn't know what the trajectory was for a detective - this isn't something that you find in a book or an episode of NYPD Blue.

                      So I know now that all's not lost due to my age - thank you again!


                      • #12
                        Like others have said, there are no 100%'s in the quest for a specialty assignment. In my agency, you serve a minimum of two years in patrol including the 6 month academy before you are eligible to test for specialty assignments. It is a competitive process, and people sit on lists for years without getting transfered. You could potentially be in patrol a long, long time.

                        I personally am tired of people who "bide their time" in patrol until they can go specialized. Patrol is one of the best assignments I ever had and I still volunteer to work patrol frequently.


                        • #13
                          You want to be a detective but you don't know what a detective does and don't want to spend any time as a uniformed officer?

                          Just buy a Corvette. Its a cheaper and easier way to enjoy your midlife crisis.
                          I miss you, Dave.


                          • #14
                            There are a lot of agencies that don't age discriminate.

                            If you can pass the civil service or police tests, the polygraph, the psychological exam, the interview panel, the Chief's Q & A, the extensive and intrusive background, the physical exam, and score higher than the other 100 candidates who have reserve police officer and lateral experience, then the job is yours.

                            The entry level uniformed police job that is...

                            Of course, then you have to make it through the State or regional academy (4 - 8 months) and another 4 - 8 months of field training with an experienced patrol officer who doesn't give a fig about your aspirations for detective.

                            For the first 2 years you'll be called "boot" "recruit" "noob" or some other term of endearment.... You'll have at least 18 months probation, during which time you may be relieved of employment for practically any reason.

                            It'll take you 3-5 years to be considered competent. You'll feel competent before others feel you are. You're not considered a veteran for about 5 years. Then you MAY be considered for position of detective or investigator.

                            During the time you're "making your bones" you ARE an investigator.... Just not paid or titled as such. But your work as a patrol officer will be the thing that opens up the opportunity to progress..

                            Just my 2 cents. Good luck in your path...
                            Everything rises or falls on leadership. Everything.


                            • #15
                              At my agency, detectives are the best of the "blue shirts". They're proven officers who have put in their time. Our youngest detective has 9 years of experience, and he just became a detective last year. If you're not committed to starting on square one, I would stick to whatever career you have and continue to enjoy watching the First 48 and ID channel.
                              R.I.P. #2083, You will never be forgotten.

                              Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. Matt. 5:9

                              Inmates seem really into counting the number of officers it took to take them down. If only their love of math had blossomed earlier.


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