I worked in a Police Department for 4 years, first as an intern and then as the assistant to the Chief of Police. Many of my friends are detectives. I will try to provide you with information on it.
- A detective is a lateral promotion of a police officer. It is the same rank, just a different function of the organization. Thus, you need to be a police/patrol officer first. The amount of time spent on patrol varies widely with departments, but I would say you should anticipate on spending at least 5 years as a patrol officer. During that time you will be provided multiple opportunities to increase your skill set and get training for a lateral promotion to a detective. To emphasize this point, there are Patrol Sergeants (a real promotion) and Detective Sergeants (a leader of detectives). I hope this makes sense.