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  1. #1
    Kimble's Avatar
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    Investigative experience

    One thing that is often cited on here as valuable experience for 1811 positions is investigative experience, which is why many seem seek positions as 1810's or other investigative positions (LE or otherwise) prior to being competitive to the 1811 pools.

    My question is what would be a good description of "investigative experience"? For example, I work in the academic field, but my position also allows me to participate in functions for our college's accrediting commission. They select specialists in certain fields (I've done so for Criminal Justice) to go to other institutions they accredit and inspect their compliance to the accreditations standards and policies. Doing so, I've had to interview numerous sources (CJ department heads and faculty, deans, support staff and directors, students, etc.), research paperwork, records and databases for the institution for relevant information, and compiling all the information I had attained into a thorough report for submission to the accrediting council.

    Would this qualify as "investigative experience"? I certainly understand that the above example has nothing to do with "criminal investigative experience", and it isn't a part of my day-to-day duties with my present job, but it does seem to me that this could be considered investigative experience of a general or regulatory nature. I'm interested to see how others- particularly those in the criminal investigative fields- would see this experience in regard to investigative experience in general.

    Thoughts?
    Last edited by Kimble; 08-03-2005 at 10:24.
    "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing." -Edmund Burke

    "Society prepares the crime; the criminal commits it." -Chinese proverb

  2. #2
    nsedet's Avatar
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    If you can articulate how this experience relates to the particular skills the agency is looking for, then it should help you. I can see it working well up to a certain point, generally at the GS-5/7/9 level where the KSA's tend to focus on ability rather than demonstrated experience. For example, if the KSA or application asks about your ability to conduct investigations, document investigative findings, interview people, or other general skills, then you should be able to explain in detail how this experience provided you with that particular skill. It will be less helpful at the GS-11 level and up when agencies start looking for actual demonstrated experience conducting criminal investigations. A lot depends on the individual agency and what it is looking for, but it sounds like the experience should help you in applying for vacancies so long as you clearly explain what you did in a way that relates the experience to the job for which you are applying.

  3. #3
    krellum's Avatar
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    As far as investigative experience at the entry level, I don't think it needs to be criminal investigative experience. I think any experience where you show an ability to conduct interviews and interact with people, gather facts/data, and formulate some sort of conclusion fits the bill nicely.

    Sounds to me like the expereince you've described is exactly that. As long as you can show/articulate on a KSA the parallels between your expereince and criminal investigative experience - i.e. you can show how the mechaics of what you've done are similar - it soulds like "investigative experience' to me.

    k
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  4. #4
    Kimble's Avatar
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    Thank you, gentlemen. That's what I assumed, but it's good to hear it confirmed from those in-the-know.
    "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing." -Edmund Burke

    "Society prepares the crime; the criminal commits it." -Chinese proverb

  5. #5
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    I would most certainly say so. If you can write your KSAs to reflect your investigative experience, you are golden. Although not criminal, the basic steps are the same. You have an allegation (or in your case, a task to accomplish), you conduct all necessary leads to accomplish your task (interviews, records checks etc), and then you prepare a finished product officially documenting your findings. Articulation of this in your KSAs and/or interviews will be key, but you have a great start.
    -OT

  6. #6
    ATF SAC's Avatar
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    Here is the information from the ATF Special Agent Recruitment information from their web site for qualification at the 5,7,9 levels. Very much standard OPM language for grade classification. (Bold is my editing for emphasis)

    Grade 5:

    Three years of general experience, one of which was equivalent to at least the grade 4. General experience is defined as progressively responsible work in criminal investigative or law enforcement fields that requires knowledge and application of laws relating to criminal violations.

    Grade 7:

    "One full year of specialized experience equivalent to at least the GS-5 grade level. Specialized experience is experience in or related to investigations of criminal violations that provided the specific knowledge, skills, and abilities to successfully perform the duties of the position. Examples of qualifying specialized experience include:

    - Leadership or membership on a military intelligence or criminal investigative team or component in which the principal duties consisted of security investigations, intelligence gathering or criminal prosecution.
    - Analyzing raw investigative data and preparing comprehensive written investigative reports.
    - Investigating complex claims involving suspected crimes or alleged fraud. - Investigating criminal cases requiring the use of recognized investigative methods that may have included presenting evidence in court.
    - Supervising or conducting interrogations that involved eliciting evidence, data or surveillance information.
    - Law enforcement work in which 50 percent or more of the time involved criminal investigations requiring the use of surveillance, undercover or other criminal detection methods.
    - Investigating computerized businesses and/or accounting systems and forming sound conclusions as to related criminal business practices and compliance with federal laws and regulations.
    - Investigative work that required rapid, accurate judgments and sound decision-making in applying regulations, instructions and procedures. Successful completion of formalized programs of in-service training for any of the above.

    GS 9:

    "One full year of specialized experience. Experience must have been equivalent to at least the GS-7 level. The applicant must have specific knowledge, skills and abilities using criminal investigative techniques to successfully perform the duties of the position.

    In addition:

    NON-QUALIFYING GENERAL EXPERIENCE • Work experience as a uniformed law enforcement officer, where the principal duties consist of investigations and arrests, involving traffic violations, minor felonies, misdemeanors, and comparable offenses; or • Work experience in which the major duties involve guarding and protecting property; preventing crimes, and/or legal research without the application of investigative techniques.
    ret.

  7. #7
    Kimble's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ATF SAC
    Here is the information from the ATF Special Agent Recruitment information from their web site for qualification at the 5,7,9 levels. Very much standard OPM language for grade classification. (Bold is my editing for emphasis)...

    Grade 5:

    Three years of general experience, one of which was equivalent to at least the grade 4. General experience is defined as progressively responsible work in criminal investigative or law enforcement fields that requires knowledge and application of laws relating to criminal violations.
    ATF SAC,

    If I'm interpreting what you posted correctly, you're informing us that some positions (ex: the SA position with ATF detailed in your post above) will specifically request criminal investigative experience, and as such, the applicant should be wary of what type of investigative experience is being sought in the hiring agency's announcement (i.e. whether general investigative experience will suffice, or if criminal-specific investigative experience is needed). Am I reading what you were posting correctly?
    "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing." -Edmund Burke

    "Society prepares the crime; the criminal commits it." -Chinese proverb

  8. #8
    sleoII404 Guest
    Quote Originally Posted by ATF SAC
    NON-QUALIFYING GENERAL EXPERIENCE • Work experience as a uniformed law enforcement officer, where the principal duties consist of investigations and arrests, involving traffic violations, minor felonies, misdemeanors, and comparable offenses; or • Work experience in which the major duties involve guarding and protecting property; preventing crimes, and/or legal research without the application of investigative techniques.
    ATF SAC I was wondering if you could elaborate on this fact. I was under the impression that ATF likes former police officers for their experience. I know that the paper may say one thing but in an interview it may be entirely diffrent. Should I not consider being a patrolman if I want to be an 1811? I just ask because I am juggling the idea of being a police officer (not meant to hijack your thread ROS). Would it be a better idea to go into a private field of investigative work rather than being a police officer?

  9. #9
    nsedet's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sleoII404
    ATF SAC I was wondering if you could elaborate on this fact. I was under the impression that ATF likes former police officers for their experience. I know that the paper may say one thing but in an interview it may be entirely diffrent. Should I not consider being a patrolman if I want to be an 1811? I just ask because I am juggling the idea of being a police officer (not meant to hijack your thread ROS). Would it be a better idea to go into a private field of investigative work rather than being a police officer?
    I am sure ATF SAC can give you more insight with respect to ATF's hiring, but in general the key part of the section you cited is the second part: "where the principal duties consist of investigations and arrests, involving traffic violations, minor felonies, misdemeanors, and comparable offenses." Whether or not uniformed police service will count as qualifying experience when applying to most 1811 positions depends on the specific duties you performed and how you articulate that experience. If you can only demonstrate that you performed "routine" patrol duties dealing with traffic offenses and minor crimes, then your experience won't be of much help. However, if you can articulate that your patrol experience also included conducting more complex investigations of serious felonies and handling follow-up investigations from start to finish, the your experience is more likely to be considered "qualifying" by most agencies. The key thing is clearly explaining the type of work you performed and how it relates to performing criminal investigations.
    Last edited by nsedet; 08-03-2005 at 14:27.

  10. #10
    sleoII404 Guest
    Thanks NSEDET, I should have opened my question up to everyone. Atriculation is the name of the game.

  11. #11
    Kimble's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sleoII404
    Should I not consider being a patrolman if I want to be an 1811? I just ask because I am juggling the idea of being a police officer (not meant to hijack your thread ROS).
    No problem, Sleo, as your post isn't a hijacking of the thread, but rather is seeking further elaboration on what I was asking. Thanks for the replies. It seems that investigative experience (criminal, regulatory or otherwise) can certainly be beneficial, but it's up to the applicant to READ what the hiring agency is requiring in the vacancy announcement before determining if their investigative experience meets such requirements.
    "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing." -Edmund Burke

    "Society prepares the crime; the criminal commits it." -Chinese proverb

  12. #12
    someday is offline Cadet
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    experience

    So what your saying is that experience such as a fraud investigator for a bank would be qualifying experience. Would you classify this as good experience? If not what else. I was a federal employee for three years, one year of which I was a police officer.

  13. #13
    ATF SAC's Avatar
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    There are two ways in which law enforcement experience can help you or count for you, but before I go into them let me restate something I have said before on these forums, in terms of qualifying to take the test, be interviewed and to be offered a higher grade if you are successful. Education trumps experience. If you go to the ATF web page and look at the document I quoted you will find that someone with a BA and one year of grad school will qualify as a 7. So will someone with a high GPA in their undergraduate work. Someone with a master's degree will qualify as a 9. If you had your BA you could potentially put together qualifying education faster than you can specialized experience (X years in patrol, X years in investigation) vs 1 or two years in a Master's program.

    The first way qualifying specialized experience can help you is official, on the books, counts toward being offered a higher grade. That is what I quoted. Again, for purposes of eligibility and grade consideration you can substitute education for all of this. This is all about basic eligiblity however. Be advised, ATF gets applicants with advanced degrees and police, investigative, military and work experience all the time. With regard to basic eligibility, having your Masters and having 4 years as a homicide detective will not get you any more consideration or a higher grade than if you just had one or the other. Nor actually will it result in your getting to test and interview and someone with just a BA not getting the opportunity. For clarity, this is like the measurement at amusement parks, you must be this tall to get on the ride. If you are just tall enough or twice as tall doesn't matter.


    The second way experience counts is more intangible, but in a competitive process may be more important. Once you pass the TEA you are being measured against both standards and against other applicants. Applicants with significant LE (or military) experience are often more informed about ATF (may even have had some training from the agency). They have successfully passed a rigorous training and background process. They are experienced in working in a rank ordered paramilitary structure. If they have the education it may not particularly make a difference if they worked patrol or investigations, generally -BUT (a big but) not always - they will come across better in interviews or in what I will term the performance parts of the testing. After all once upon a time they beat out other applicants for their first police job, so it is certainly possible for people without the experience to do well in the process and to get hired. However, there is not tangible benefit here like there is with qualifying or getting a higher grade offer. If you screw up the interview you don't get extra credit for having been a cop.

    However, at the end we have to choose among people. Clearly the more good stuff in file A over file B can be a plus for applicant A. Again, not in lieu of the standards and performance in the application process.

    To make this all as simple as possible, there are not hidden standards and qualifications. Moreover, the system is structured to prevent us from acting on them. Might be nice to have a warm spot for cops and I do. Less nice if I have a cold spot for this kind of person or that. I think what happens really is that ATF draws people with excellent credentials who will go through the process fairly easily and people with very, very good skills who will maybe not ace everything but will still finish high enough to qualify. Remember it isn't going to get down to the best applicant ever presented. It is going to get down the best hundred or two hundred or whatever.
    ret.

  14. #14
    heymeng's Avatar
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    investigative experience

    I worked for a little under two years in the private sector doing insurance fraud and worker's compensation fraud cases. Most of us at this particular firm were young enthusiastic (partly crazy) guys straight out of college making peanuts, but having a lot of fun doing it. I did not choose to go the federal 1811 route until recently, but a good chunk of those guys I worked with are current 1811's at various agencies including the ATF, DEA, and USPIS. I used to question myself if that past experience would be an asset or just plain laughed at by the federal hiring agencies. Seeing what all those guys are doing with it now makes me realize any experience of the investigative nature counts in some way. Guess I'll have to see how it works out for myself.


 

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