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(Federal/Investigative) Law Enforcement

devoirdevoir Registered User regular
edited July 2007 in Help / Advice Forum
I'm looking at my options for the future now, and one of the directions I'm investigating is law enforcement at the federal level. Basically high level investigative stuff.

I left university before I finished my Computing degree, but the work is there. I'm planning on completing it and probably doing a graduate diploma in Criminology. I have two years experience in a job which has demonstrably required skills such problem solving, detailed documentation, following procedures, critical thinking, etc.

The Australian Federal Police is probably where I'd like to work at in 2-3 years time, once I get the tertiary studies completed. My question is what else do you think will assist in stacking the deck in my favour? I'm thinking of picking up some language courses at the local adult education centre, such as French and Spanish. Even if I don't use it in the job, I think it's something that counts as a positive.

If anyone has experience in getting into that kind of work, any information or experiences you'd feel comfortable relating whether here or via PM would be appreciated.

As I said above, it's only one career path I'm considering, as I'm at a bit of a crossroads at the moment, but once I decide, I'll be doing everything I can do to get where I want to go.

devoir on

Posts

  • PirateJonPirateJon Registered User regular
    edited July 2007
    Take Arabic if you can.

    PirateJon on
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  • DaedalusDaedalus Registered User regular
    edited July 2007
    PirateJon wrote: »
    Take Arabic if you can.

    And/or Farsi.

    Daedalus on
  • Steel AngelSteel Angel Registered User regular
    edited July 2007
    I'm not sure how much of a concern it is over in Australia, but you should also consider learning languages used in Southeast Asia (Thai, etc.) since some of those countries are where a lot of drugs ship out from. It's a concern for US intelligence (including the FBI) and given Australia's closer proximity it could be a concern there too.

    Steel Angel on
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  • EndomaticEndomatic Registered User regular
    edited July 2007
    How difficult are those languages to learn, say vs. Japanese?

    Endomatic on
  • devoirdevoir Registered User regular
    edited July 2007
    Hrm. I am of Chinese heritage, so I guess picking up mandarin or something would make sense, playing on my 'strengths' so to speak.

    Anyone else? Hopefully with some experience in the area? I basically want to do some good, be challenged and hopefully not get stuck doing "track the joyride car" kind of stuff.

    devoir on
  • RhinoRhino TheRhinLOL Registered User regular
    edited July 2007
    Do you know anyone in the field? Can you go down to the law enforcement Head Quarters and ask them if you can talk to them a bit? Or check out their online site? That might give you a feel for it to see what it's like, even though it might be a bit 'biased' or one side; it'll give you a chance to ask them some questions.

    Rhino on
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  • devoirdevoir Registered User regular
    edited July 2007
    Unfortunately I don't know anyone in the field. I'll hit their site again, it's been a while. Nice obvious tip that I didn't think of. ;)

    Anyone else?

    devoir on
  • ViolentChemistryViolentChemistry __BANNED USERS regular
    edited July 2007
    devoir wrote: »
    Hrm. I am of Chinese heritage, so I guess picking up mandarin or something would make sense, playing on my 'strengths' so to speak.

    Anyone else? Hopefully with some experience in the area? I basically want to do some good, be challenged and hopefully not get stuck doing "track the joyride car" kind of stuff.

    Honestly it doesn't sound like law enforcement is the field for you, given your stated drives.

    ViolentChemistry on
  • devoirdevoir Registered User regular
    edited July 2007
    And what's your experience?

    Clarification: I mean this in terms of your experience/knowledge of what occurs in the various branches of the AFP or its analogue in your country. I'm not looking for standard 'plod' law enforcement, or basic white collar crime investigative stuff.

    devoir on
  • ViolentChemistryViolentChemistry __BANNED USERS regular
    edited July 2007
    devoir wrote: »
    And what's your experience?

    Clarification: I mean this in terms of your experience/knowledge of what occurs in the various branches of the AFP or its analogue in your country. I'm not looking for standard 'plod' law enforcement, or basic white collar crime investigative stuff.

    Such departments generally only hire specialists as needed, regular hiring is pretty much entirely the suits who go around and say "we're the FBI and we have this list of questions about white-collar crime X". The bigger problem of course is that you're never going to get to pick which cases you get put on, so given your rather specific expectations with regard to "making a difference" and your list of activities that to you are nothing more than being a cog in a machine, you're going to hate your life because you'll almost never do anything but the latter unless you're hired as a specialist. Which is pretty absurdly unlikely.

    Oh also if you've ever smoked the herb, you're out by default.

    ViolentChemistry on
  • devoirdevoir Registered User regular
    edited July 2007
    devoir wrote: »
    And what's your experience?

    Clarification: I mean this in terms of your experience/knowledge of what occurs in the various branches of the AFP or its analogue in your country. I'm not looking for standard 'plod' law enforcement, or basic white collar crime investigative stuff.

    Such departments generally only hire specialists as needed, regular hiring is pretty much entirely the suits who go around and say "we're the FBI and we have this list of questions about white-collar crime X". The bigger problem of course is that you're never going to get to pick which cases you get put on, so given your rather specific expectations with regard to "making a difference" and your list of activities that to you are nothing more than being a cog in a machine, you're going to hate your life because you'll almost never do anything but the latter unless you're hired as a specialist. Which is pretty absurdly unlikely.

    Oh also if you've ever smoked the herb, you're out by default.

    I've never taken drugs or even touched alcohol beyond rumballs at Christmas time.

    It appears that my understanding of the AFP being similar to the FBI is completely wrong based on what you've described your FBI as. That or the AFP website and associated materials flat out lie.

    In regards to making a difference, it doesn't have to be "damn I just saved the world". I don't mind being part of an overall machine, working in a team or whatever. I'm looking for a career that can sustain me, I have no illusions about being some kind of gunslinger going in like James Bond which is the impression I'm getting from your rather down the nose posts.

    devoir on
  • ViolentChemistryViolentChemistry __BANNED USERS regular
    edited July 2007
    devoir wrote: »
    devoir wrote: »
    And what's your experience?

    Clarification: I mean this in terms of your experience/knowledge of what occurs in the various branches of the AFP or its analogue in your country. I'm not looking for standard 'plod' law enforcement, or basic white collar crime investigative stuff.

    Such departments generally only hire specialists as needed, regular hiring is pretty much entirely the suits who go around and say "we're the FBI and we have this list of questions about white-collar crime X". The bigger problem of course is that you're never going to get to pick which cases you get put on, so given your rather specific expectations with regard to "making a difference" and your list of activities that to you are nothing more than being a cog in a machine, you're going to hate your life because you'll almost never do anything but the latter unless you're hired as a specialist. Which is pretty absurdly unlikely.

    Oh also if you've ever smoked the herb, you're out by default.

    I've never taken drugs or even touched alcohol beyond rumballs at Christmas time.

    It appears that my understanding of the AFP being similar to the FBI is completely wrong based on what you've described your FBI as. That or the AFP website and associated materials flat out lie.

    In regards to making a difference, it doesn't have to be "damn I just saved the world". I don't mind being part of an overall machine, working in a team or whatever. I'm looking for a career that can sustain me, I have no illusions about being some kind of gunslinger going in like James Bond which is the impression I'm getting from your rather down the nose posts.

    If James Bond is what you think I'm talking about when I say "specialist" then yes, the AFP's website probably blows goats.

    Edit: Although I did entirely forget that most of their employees actually just do clerical work. I assumed you were specifically aiming for something field-work related, and not ordering supplies for the local branch-office.

    ViolentChemistry on
  • devoirdevoir Registered User regular
    edited July 2007
    Nevermind. I was asking for particular advice and pointers, not a snide assessment of my chances or how accurate my viewpoint may seem from you.

    Anyone else?

    devoir on
  • ViolentChemistryViolentChemistry __BANNED USERS regular
    edited July 2007
    devoir wrote: »
    Nevermind. I was asking for particular advice and pointers, not a snide assessment of my chances or how accurate my viewpoint may seem from you.
    Anyone else? Hopefully with some experience in the area? I basically want to do some good, be challenged and hopefully not get stuck doing "track the joyride car" kind of stuff.

    Honestly it doesn't sound like law enforcement is the field for you, given your stated drives.[/QUOTE]

    You're welcome to your delusions about what federal-level investigative police organizations actually do, but you don't get to pretend I'm just ripping on your dreams because it's fun. "Track the joyride car" wouldn't even be federal-level jurisdiction, for starters. Unless there's a kidnap-victim or a shipment of coke in the boot, anyway.

    ViolentChemistry on
  • devoirdevoir Registered User regular
    edited July 2007
    I'm going to humour you, because you've completely missed the point of that sentence in particular and hopefully clarifying it here will also clarify it for anyone else who misreads it as you have done.

    When I said "track the joyride car" it was to demonstrate why I was leaning towards Federal law enforcement, because I had specifically listed in the topic title "Federal/Investigative", which could have lead to people talking about the standard state level detective entrance exams, etc.

    I was trying to give readers an idea of why I was looking at the AFP in a general sense. My motivations were not what I wanted advice on, I don't have a question about whether I am interested in law enforcement. I have no idea whether I'm completely misreading your posts, but you're coming across as really derisive and not helpful in the sense that I'm looking for.

    devoir on
  • ViolentChemistryViolentChemistry __BANNED USERS regular
    edited July 2007
    devoir wrote: »
    I'm going to humour you, because you've completely missed the point of that sentence in particular and hopefully clarifying it here will also clarify it for anyone else who misreads it as you have done.

    When I said "track the joyride car" it was to demonstrate why I was leaning towards Federal law enforcement, because I had specifically listed in the topic title "Federal/Investigative", which could have lead to people talking about the standard state level detective entrance exams, etc.

    I was trying to give readers an idea of why I was looking at the AFP in a general sense. My motivations were not what I wanted advice on, I don't have a question about whether I am interested in law enforcement. I have no idea whether I'm completely misreading your posts, but you're coming across as really derisive and not helpful in the sense that I'm looking for.

    I'm not deriding you. Let me clarify where I'm coming from as well. In the criminal justice course I took this past fall, going in I was the second-to-only person in the entire class who didn't say I was planning to go into law enforcement the first day of class. After the final, only one girl who was specifically interested in U.S. Customs dept. was still even remotely interested in the field. There may have been instructor bias though, works in corrections (as a teacher, helping inmates get GEDs or higher), doctor of criminology, and her husband's a K-9 Officer.

    Edit: Essentially, none of these kids really knew what they were planning on getting themselves into before the class, but they were all totally convinced, several had their route in planned in detail and connections in place already even.

    ViolentChemistry on
  • Andrew_JayAndrew_Jay Registered User regular
    edited May 2021
    -

    Andrew_Jay on
  • devoirdevoir Registered User regular
    edited July 2007
    Thanks, I didn't think of reading up on the core legislation. I've been going over the AFP website as per the suggestion of a previous poster, and some of the content has changed since I last looked at this (while I was still at university). I'll look up Wikipedia and see whether the local justice precinct has some information on the AFP from the 'dry and dusty' point of view.

    devoir on
  • devoirdevoir Registered User regular
    edited July 2007
    One bump and I'm done. Just hoping the weekday crowd might have some fresh perspectives.

    devoir on
  • LewishamLewisham Registered User regular
    edited July 2007
    Bumping is so uncool.

    Lewisham on
  • devoirdevoir Registered User regular
    edited July 2007
    Well it wasn't random bumping, it was specifically because I wanted to see a different cross section of opinions based on the fact that there are different readers during different periods of the week.

    devoir on
  • TreelootTreeloot Registered User regular
    edited July 2007
    devoir wrote: »
    Hrm. I am of Chinese heritage, so I guess picking up mandarin or something would make sense, playing on my 'strengths' so to speak.

    Anyone else? Hopefully with some experience in the area? I basically want to do some good, be challenged and hopefully not get stuck doing "track the joyride car" kind of stuff.

    Before taking up a language with hopes it will help you get a job, it might be a good idea to check how the demand is for people speaking that language. I have no idea what the demand is for people who can speak Chinese, but from my experiences it seems like quite a few people are already fluent in Chinese and English.

    Treeloot on
  • SarcastroSarcastro Registered User regular
    edited July 2007
    An additional language is something, I suppose, it certainly wont hurt your chances.

    I would suggest volunteering for your local victim's services unit. The 'plod' as you put it, is there for a reason, being that the vast majority of crimes are at a very low level and contain repetitions of the same general theme - drug and alchohol abuse, and the actions of the mentally unstable. At the higher end, 'investigative' procedures are more about data analysis, which is probably even more boring than it sounds. Paperwork, paperwork and more paperwork.

    I would think a degree in criminology would satisfy the reading and writing end of it, but you need some involvement with the nitty gritty. I have several freinds trying to get into law enforcement, a tough field to break into here in Canada, and because they are all fine upstanding citizens who've never been involved with anything illegal they get discounted as being too green. Direct involvement would get you tossed of course, so victims services gets you close enough to see how things really work with actually becoming involved in crime.

    If you're looking into the computing side of things, I was councelled by a friend of mine working in internet security that being up on hacking techniques and general security software is a big bonus. Computer specialists in law enforcement are quite rare - the methods are surprisingly low tech past the initial tracking. Still, you do get to put away some of the naughtiest people around, so I suppose it has it's upside. Very much a deskjob though, don't fool yourself. If you want action, you'll probably need to serve with local law for a few years first.

    Sarcastro on
  • TomantaTomanta Registered User regular
    edited July 2007
    The suggestions above are great, here's something I'd like to add:

    If AFP is structured like the FBI, you'll have a somewhat local bureau. Call them, let them know you are considering trying to join in a few years and would like to meet with someone to get a better idea of what the job is like. What you want to try to do is meet with an actual agent (rather than a recruiter or HR monkey). Someone should be able to spare an hour to talk with you. Treat this almost like a job interview - come well prepared with questions and make a good impression.

    In addition to actually gathering information, you want to become friends with this person (meet with them several times) and stay in touch because they could become an invaluable mentor/contact/RECOMMENDATION.

    You don't loose anything by trying this, though.

    Tomanta on
  • HorseshoeHorseshoe Registered User regular
    edited July 2007
    devoir wrote: »
    And what's your experience?

    Clarification: I mean this in terms of your experience/knowledge of what occurs in the various branches of the AFP or its analogue in your country. I'm not looking for standard 'plod' law enforcement, or basic white collar crime investigative stuff.

    SE Asian gangster types are probably more likely to be speaking Cantonese than Mandarin.

    Horseshoe on
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  • HorseshoeHorseshoe Registered User regular
    edited July 2007
    Incidentally, one of my co-workers used to work for the US Fish & Wildlife service. Because he was from Vietnam and fluent in Cantonese, they used him in "sting" operations to find people who were smuggling endangered species into the U.S. from Asia.

    Horseshoe on
    dmsigsmallek3.jpg
  • devoirdevoir Registered User regular
    edited July 2007
    Hrm. Too bad I lost all my cantonese when I came to Australia and started kindergarden. I'll have to find some expats around here or something.

    I'll see what I can do about that recommendation Tomanta, that really is one that'd give an edge in the longterm view of things that I'm taking.

    devoir on
  • ThanatosThanatos Registered User regular
    edited July 2007
    If you were speaking it very young, you'd probably pick it up again pretty fast.

    Thanatos on
  • FristleFristle Registered User regular
    edited July 2007
    Such departments generally only hire specialists as needed, regular hiring is pretty much entirely the suits who go around and say "we're the FBI and we have this list of questions about white-collar crime X". The bigger problem of course is that you're never going to get to pick which cases you get put on, so given your rather specific expectations with regard to "making a difference" and your list of activities that to you are nothing more than being a cog in a machine, you're going to hate your life because you'll almost never do anything but the latter unless you're hired as a specialist. Which is pretty absurdly unlikely.

    If you know which federal contractor to interview with (i.e. who they are contracting out to, to perform the "specialist" work) then it is totally possible to get the job. You just need the required expertise and the clean background. Sometimes the only contractors you could get a job with, are only hiring people with clearances already so you might have to start in a related position somewhere else in the community with an employer who will sponsor you for the clearance process, and get one of those first.

    Federal law enforcement needs translators and linguists, sure, but there's a serious shortage of tech experts as well. If it interests you, digital evidence and computer forensics is a burgeoning field. If you were to build experience in that, it would also provide opportunities outside in the commercial world. There are private investigation firms, popularly known as "incident response" or first responders.
    Oh also if you've ever smoked the herb, you're out by default.

    No no. It's not quite that cut-and-dry ... with the US federal government clearances at least. They're pretty forgiving on that actually. As long as it wasn't you know, yesterday that you were stoned off your ass.

    Fristle on
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  • devoirdevoir Registered User regular
    edited July 2007
    I'd be very content if I could use some of my current experience/skillset by moving into a digital/IT-orientated area of investigation/law enforcement. I'm not entirely sure what to look into to start building up knowledge specific in the areas of digital forensics, etc - any starting pointers?

    devoir on
  • FristleFristle Registered User regular
    edited July 2007
    devoir wrote: »
    I'd be very content if I could use some of my current experience/skillset by moving into a digital/IT-orientated area of investigation/law enforcement. I'm not entirely sure what to look into to start building up knowledge specific in the areas of digital forensics, etc - any starting pointers?

    Yea, check out the CyberSpeak podcast. You can get introduced to a myriad of topics and decide from there which are interesting to you. In all of their show notes, you will find a monster list of links, like to the Forensics Wiki.

    Fristle on
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