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  1. #1
    GMan26's Avatar
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    Question What makes a good investigator

    I'm curious, when a patrol officer wants to become an investigator / detective what qualities do they look for? Like what must you show or say to convince them for the position change?

    Basically what qualities makes for a good investigator.
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  2. #2
    Lfpdlieu302's Avatar
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    think outside of the box. all officers are investigators, some just do it more than others. everytime a traffic stop is made, you investigate something. have a desire to learn the craft, once you hone the skills it will show.
    I do what I can do when I can do it.

  3. #3
    GMan26's Avatar
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    I guess i'm curious of what skills do investigators have. I'm sure they have to deal with hostile witnesses, interviewing skills, etc... maybe i'm looking to see what a 'typical' day is like for a detective. once they get handed the case what steps do they take to try to solve it....
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  4. #4
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    Alot of the skills needed you either have them or you dont, I.E. commons sense, and some street smarts

  5. #5
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    You've already displayed an important quality. Curiousity.

    Don't make assumptions and don't jump to conclusions, be curious, ask why (and ask it a lot).

    Have an active mind.

    Develop a sense of energy - mental as well as physical.

    Be ready to deal with frustration when leads don't work out.

    Avoid the targetting fallacy - don't decide that you have a suspect and see all evidence through that prism.

    Be prepared to treat all evidence as tentative until it is tested.

    Be familiar with the scientific method (I'm not kidding) and use it as a guide for your investigational practice.

    Know your law - substantive and procedural.

    Be a professional witness (some of your most critical work will be in court) and guard your reputation and your integrity carefully. Don't be dragged down into unprofessional conduct during your investigations or in court. Show professional respect to the lawyer representing the defendant and don't let it get personal. They are only doing their job and you are only doing yours.

    Get to love your desk telephone, it will be one of the most important aids to investigation you can have.

    Don't be judgemental. You will interview witnesses and suspects whom you will loathe - don't show your personal feelings and avoid judgemental-sounding language. Remember that when you speak to a suspect you are carrying out a role, your own self isn't involved, it's your investigator persona and your investigator persona is only interested in getting information, not expressing personal distaste.

    Read Joseph Wambaugh - again I'm not kidding. He was a Homicide Investigator with the LAPD before the LAPD made it impossible for him to be a professional writer and an investigator, there are some good tips in all of his books.

    Learn to put up with the mundane, much of the work is plodding and procedural and the exciting bits are sometimes few and far between but it is immensely satisfying when you complete a case.

    Cultivate informants and information sources.

    And remember that the job isn't finished until the paperwork is done.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lfpdlieu302
    think outside of the box
    That is exactly what I would say. The guys I work with love it because I follow every lead I can to get them any information they need. I utilize everything I have at my disposal to track down information.
    I need to be an investigator when taking calls. I not only have to listen to what is said, but listen to what is NOT said. By reading between the lines, I can come up with more pertinant questions to ask, and get more information out of the callers.

  7. #7
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    Investigator

    All of the above is wonderful, but the practical aspects of a Detective Supervisor looking at a patrol officer to bring on board are a little more mundane. As a former Investigations Division Supervisor I looked at the following:


    1) Report writing ability - If you can't write, you can't be a good investigator.

    2) Work record/history - Are you on time, do you call in sick often, citizen complaints (can work for and against you depending).

    3) Initiative - Do you take calls beyond the initial response. All cops know of officers who go to calls looking to end them as quickly as possible with as little paperwork as possible. Are you one of those or do you take the call as an opportunity to find the bigger issue.

    4) How have you worked with the Investigations Division in the past. Have you supported us on major crimes, etc., if so, how did it work out. Did you pull the mundane crime scene security detail without *****ing and complaining making the best out of a boring situation or did you ***** and whine thinking you were too important for crime scene security/checkpoint duty, etc.

    5) Your' overall reputation. With other agencies, other cops, detectives, dispatchers, support staff and a big one, prosecutors. My biggest issue was integrity. I told new detectives on the first day of work in my division, that I would always fight for my employees tooth and nail unless they compromised their integrity, then I would fight to have them fired. Obviously as cops we tell half truths and outright lie on occasion to suspects, etc., but, we NEVER lie to each other, to victims, etc., What kind of witness are you. I would talk to prosecutors and see if there had ever been any issues with you. Has there ever been a case that could not be prosecuted because of something you did or didn't do. Any evidence issues, etc.

    6) Catchall - how do you deal with stress, firearms, officer safety, etc.


    Hope that helps.

    Swat1*

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