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Police Detective  What They Do

Just the Facts


Conducts investigations to prevent crimes or solve criminal cases.

This career is part of the Law, Public Safety, Corrections and Security cluster Law Enforcement Services pathway.


A person in this career:

  • Provides testimony as a witness in court.
  • Secures deceased body and obtains evidence from it, preventing bystanders from tampering with it prior to medical examiner's arrival.
  • Examines crime scenes to obtain clues and evidence, such as loose hairs, fibers, clothing, or weapons.
  • Obtains evidence from suspects.
  • Records progress of investigation, maintains informational files on suspects, and submits reports to commanding officer or magistrate to authorize warrants.
  • Checks victims for signs of life, such as breathing and pulse.
  • Prepares charges or responses to charges, or information for court cases, according to formalized procedures.
  • Obtains facts or statements from complainants, witnesses, and accused persons and records interviews, using recording device.
  • Prepares and serves search and arrest warrants.
  • Notes, marks, and photographs location of objects found, such as footprints, tire tracks, bullets and bloodstains, and takes measurements of the scene.

Working Conditions and Physical Demands

People who do this job report that:

  • You would often handle loads up to 20 lbs., sometimes up to 50 lbs. You might do a lot of lifting, carrying, pushing or pulling.
  • Exposure to pollutants, gases, dust, fumes, odors, poor ventilation, etc.
  • Exposed to disease and infections more than once a month through work such as patient care, laboratory work, and sanitation control
  • Conditions are very hot (above 90 F) or very cold (under 32 F)
  • Work in this occupation requires being inside most of the time
  • Sound and noise levels are loud and distracting
  • Work in this occupation requires being outside most of the time
  • Work in this occupation involves sitting more than one-third of the time

Working in this career involves (physical activities):

  • Seeing clearly at a distance
  • Seeing clearly up close
  • Speaking clearly enough to be able to be understood by others
  • Identifying and understanding the speech of another person

Work Hours and Travel

  • Overtime work
  • Rotating shift work
  • Weekend work

Specialty and Similar Careers

Careers that are more detailed or close to this career:

  • Crime Scene Investigator -- Processes crime scenes and gathers evidence during a criminal investigation.
  • Drug Enforcement Agent -- Responsible for controlling and enforcing laws regarding drugs within the country.
  • Homicide Detective -- Investigates murders or deaths from unknown causes.
  • Police Officer -- Patrols assigned beat on foot, on motorcycle, in patrol car, or on horseback to control traffic, prevent crime or disturbance of peace, and arrest violators.
  • Forgery/Fraud Investigator --