Police Detective  What They Do

Just the Facts


Police Detectives Career Video



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.
  • Checks victims for signs of life, such as breathing and pulse.
  • Obtains facts or statements from complainants, witnesses, and accused persons and records interviews, using recording device.
  • Secures deceased body and obtains evidence from it, preventing bystanders from tampering with it prior to medical examiner's arrival.
  • Records progress of investigation, maintains informational files on suspects, and submits reports to commanding officer or magistrate to authorize warrants.
  • Prepares charges or responses to charges, or information for court cases, according to formalized procedures.
  • Obtains evidence from suspects.
  • Examines crime scenes to obtain clues and evidence, such as loose hairs, fibers, clothing, or weapons.
  • Preserve, processes, and analyzes items of evidence obtained from crime scenes and suspects, placing them in proper containers and destroying evidence no longer needed.
  • Obtains summary of incident from officer in charge at crime scene, taking care to avoid disturbing evidence.

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.
  • Work in this occupation involves use of protective items such as safety shoes, glasses, gloves, hearing protection, a hard hat, or personal flotation devices
  • 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
  • Lighting is either extremely bright or inadequate
  • 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:

  • Agent --
  • Criminal Investigator --
  • Detective -- Conducts investigations to solve criminal cases and to prevent crimes from occurring.
  • Detective Sergeant --
  • Fugitive Detective --
  • Fugitive Investigator --
  • Investigator --
  • Narcotics Detective -- Investigates and apprehends persons suspected of illegal sale or use of narcotics.
  • Narcotics Investigator --