Questions about the technology side of law enforcement ...

Discussion in 'Cop Talk' started by HKUSP45Css, Jan 6, 2010.

  1. HKUSP45Css

    HKUSP45Css

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    I hope I'm not intruding but, I have a question I hope you fine folks may able to answer for me. I've been mulling over becoming an officer for a few years now and have just about completed my "acedemic requirements" for the agencies in my area (60 hours of college).

    I was seriously considering applying for either Houston PD or the Harris County Sheriff's Office. My question is this:
    I've been in technology for ~15 years and really enjoy working with computers and people. Is there any way to get hired on to an agency in a capacity other than patrol? Not that I'd mind doing patrol work and putting in my time learning how to be a good officer, mind you. I'd just prefer to work in the technology sector of law enforcement. I know many agencies have "cyber crime" divisions and the like, that seems like more my speed than the high speed, low drag kind of LE experience.

    Assuming I'll be started on patrol, what are the advancement opportunities to a technology branch in the department. How does one go about a career path that leads there?

    Also, I read the "Am I too old" thread and thought I'd point out that I'll be 34 this year. Most of the replies seemed to indicate that that was not an obstacle and, in fact, might be a bit of a benefit. Does anyone know if there is a stigma regarding "older applicants" in either of the agencies I've mentioned, specifically?

    Also, does my current secret clearance give me any kind of "leg up" in the eyes of the hiring board? Even lacking any military/LEO experience?

    I thank you in adavance for your time, consideration and advice.
     
  2. Narc1911

    Narc1911 Anchora Salutis

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    Certain fed positions may hire for LE related computer forensic work. Some local and state agencies may have non-commissioned personal work computer forensics, but this is not common.

    For a municipal, county, or state department you will not get hired right into a specialty position. You would need to become a cop first, then after many years of street work you may be eligible for a specialty position in computer forensics, cyber crimes, or detectives.

    Most agencies do not have computer forensic or cyber crimes people. You would have to look into relatively large agencies to find one with that specialized of a positions. Even then the positions may have a lot of competition. Often times computer evidence is examined like an other evidence by CSI folks (who work patrol too).

    For my entire department we have one computer/tech forensic investigator.
     

  3. Morris

    Morris CLM

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    +1 to Narc.

    Gotta do the work in the dirt before you can get the better positions if you want to be sworn.

    That being said, non-sworn Computer Forensics positions at the state labs are a solid way to go. The federalies like people like you.
     
  4. mrdann

    mrdann

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    FWIW we had a guy get a "Computer Crimes Detective" poition after 3 years on road patrol. My buddy made pilot in less than 2 years.

    IF you have a REALLY unique skill set, you may be able to "fast track", but you still have to start as a "cop" first. A lot of the other candidates were POd that "rookies" got these positions, but the pilot spent 50k and 4 years "grooming" himself for the job and the computer guy had college course work, military training, and owned 2 different computer service companies when he applied for the job. In both cases, the other guys all just showed up expecting their senority to earn them a pice of the pie.

    Another friend has ALL the certs for water ops including a Coast Guard Captain's license. He operates his own charter service, dive boat, and teaches scuba cert. The marine unit likes him and wants him, but 3 years later, he's still waiting for someone to quit, die, or retire for a spot to open up.

    Good luck
     
  5. trifecta

    trifecta

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    If you really do like working with people, you might find patrol is a perfect place. If you end up with a tech job analyzing hard drives and that kind of stuff, your interactions will be mostly coworkers. If your intent is to make that move, I would be careful how I talked about it. You want to come off as motivated, but not as being "above" patrol. I don't know about HPD or Harris County SO academies, but if you make sure you are physically fit, it should be ok. The younger guys might catch a little grief for letting the old guy beat them on a run.

    See if they have a ride along program. Don't forget, if you do ride, consider it an interview. Also, don't forget there are some very large Constable offices in Harris County.
     
  6. volsbear

    volsbear IWannaBeSedated Lifetime Member

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    Some REALLY large departments have technology specialists (forensic computer guys, etc) who work those types of cases but they're subordinate to cops and are not sworn. If you want the badge and gun, you gotta pay your dues. Or go to the feds.
     
  7. Kahr_Glockman

    Kahr_Glockman

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    With Harris County they used to have a requirement that you work the Jail first. Dont know if that has changed or not. I do know that they were waving that if you were a lateral from another agency.
     
  8. Kahr_Glockman

    Kahr_Glockman

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    To add:

    I know a guy that is a computer forensics guy at Harris County SO. He spent over 15 years as a Homocide Detective and some time as a child abuse detective. There are not very many detectives in those positions. This guy is a master peace officer and has now been in LE for 25+ years. Just so you know it will not be easy to do.
     
  9. Indy_Guy_77

    Indy_Guy_77 Thread Killer

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    I know that our State Police and some Conservation Officers (hired on the "state" side of things) both have officers who don't patrol, but rather work some investigation types of things from behind a computer desk.

    I know of one C.O. who's actually on detail to the FBI doing work on the illegal trafficing of animals and such....from a computer.

    -J-
     
  10. jpa

    jpa CLM

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    If you want an assignment that specialized, I'd recommend going federal. Barring that, focus on the large, metropolitan police departments or those based in the major cities.

    A friend of mine is a cop in Chicago. Before he got hired, he got his BS in Information Systems and worked full time as an IT support tech for the public library. His job now is testing, piloting and integrating new technology in the department. He was responsible for setting up blackberries for the brass, he gets a take-home car (a Tahoe no less) with a brand new Panasonic laptop with a fingerprint scanner attached, the automatic license plate cameras, a dashcam, front and rear moving radar, and a few other toys.

    However, he still had to spend 2 or 3 years in patrol in the ghetto before he could get into this position.
     
  11. HKUSP45Css

    HKUSP45Css

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    That's just it, I currently work as civilan support for a Federal Law Enforcement Agency but, I ure would like to "be on the team."
    Maybe my people skills would be better used in a patrol capacity. To be honest I like people more than I like machines. My dillema was not to let all of the technology experience I have gathered and nurtured go to "waste." as it were.

    Also, I hope I didn't come off as being "above patrol," I have the utmost respect for Officers of the law no matter what capacity they serve in. Further, if I were to be hired as Law Enforcement Officer I would be happy enough to be serving myself that it wouldn't really matter what capacity I was chosen for.

    I was just pondering my options for having my 'druthers and seeking some advice. Thanks gang for the helpful insight, I do appreciate the responses.
     
  12. blueiron

    blueiron

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    Finish out your undergraduate work and begin on your graduate degree in Cemputer Sciences.

    Apply then for a Federal position within the FBI, DIA, NSA, or similar. The chances of you being picked up into a forensic IT unit as a sworn officer with a local, county, or state agency is slim and having only 60 credit hours is a hinderance to your career aspirations.
     
  13. Patchman

    Patchman Florist

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    If you're applying to a LE agency for a LEO position, then you need to learn patrol. Should your jurisdiction get hit with a Katrina SHTF situation, your agency is going to need all hands on deck. Nothing more is deserving of contempt than a LEO with several years on who don't know how to work the streets.

    In fact, I've often said that if an agency takes any LEO directly from the academy to some specialized assignment, the agency is doing the LEO a great disservice.
     
  14. lawman800

    lawman800 Juris Glocktor

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    It just keeps getting better, don't it?
    You will be in patrol for a few years at a local agency before you can even think about going to a specialty shop... big agencies like LAPD and LASO generally ask for 3 years of patrol before you can even take the detective or P-3 (senior lead officer/corporal) tests.

    In smaller places, depending on structure, you can be in patrol for 10 years or more before going somewhere.

    If you want to go into cyber crimes or other white collar specialties, you are better off going federal or your state's equivalent of the FBI or other alphabet soup agency. I know Georgia has their GBI and we have our BNE (CA's version of DEA).
     
  15. HKUSP45Css

    HKUSP45Css

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    There's a tremendous amount of wisdom in your post here. I hadn't given the patrol aspect of Law Enforcement enough credit as a teaching tool, you have reminded me why I ask questions. Thanks.
     
  16. lawman800

    lawman800 Juris Glocktor

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    It just keeps getting better, don't it?
    If you are not a good patrolman, you will not be a good cop in any assignment, especially admin. The best admin are those who are good street cops because they will still have that common sense and ability to cut through the crap.
     
  17. trifecta

    trifecta

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    Not to worry. I didn't take it that way. The advice was just food for thought as you go forward. :wavey:
     
  18. lawman800

    lawman800 Juris Glocktor

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    It just keeps getting better, don't it?
    Not at all, perfectly legit question given your background and interests. It's the guys who come in sayin they are too educated and want to skip patrol that's different. You asked how to make it to investigations after you get in.
     
  19. area727

    area727 G23

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    Back when I was in college (MIS degree), the FBI came in, and spoke to one of my classes. Said they were looking for IT people to do cybercrime/computer forensics stuff. There seems to be a lot more tech related LE jobs on the fed side.
     
  20. whoflungdo

    whoflungdo

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    You could go the Reserve route. I'm in IT for my day job and work with an SO reserve unit nights and weekends. Granted, I'm not in a specialized position with the SO as I work Patrol, Safety Checkpoints, Community Service, and other Security details. I still have been averaging over 50 hours a month since graduation. I get to work in both of my interests...

    Just a thought...