Careers in the Vice Unit

Vice officers enforce laws pertaining to gambling, alcohol, controlled substances and prostitution.  While many of these activities and materials are not illegal in many communities, they are very tightly regulated which creates opportunities for abuse and criminal activity.  Vice officers must maintain a keen understanding of the legal boundaries for these activities and provide unyielding safeguards to prevent criminal excess.

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Vice police jobs are usually held by detectives and experienced investigators who are capable of collecting information about criminals, organizations and operations in a variety of situations.  Some vice officers may go undercover to learn about pimps, dealers, or criminal leaders. Others may monitor the activities of known operators like legal bordellos, casinos or pharmaceutical distributors.

Vice Officer Job Description

Vice police jobs will involve demonstrating these competencies:

  • Conduct investigations into robberies or homicides related to vice
  • Monitor sex workers, gambling facilities, or bars suspected of committing crimes
  • Infiltrate criminal organizations orchestrating large narcotics, gambling or sex trade operations
  • Collect information from informants
  • Arrest perpetrators of criminal activity
  • Interrogate consumers an low level actors in order to obtain information about organization leaders
  • Use canine units to detect hidden drugs, weapons or individuals
  • Monitor the communications of suspected criminals through wiretaps

How to Become a Vice Police Officer

Vice squads are usually reserved for criminal investigators and detectives, so officers must obtain detective status.  While some departments utilize a review process to promote officers, most employ a comprehensive exam.  These very challenging exams usually evaluate situational knowledge, legal concepts and organizational operations.  In order to prepare for these exams, officers should strongly consider taking college courses or enrolling in a preparatory class.

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Following promotion, new detectives may request assignment to the vice unit.  This may not be available to officers without extensive experience in narcotics or criminal intelligence.  Many departments expect their vice officers to have a diverse professional background before obtaining a position in these challenging squads.

Vice Officer Salary

Most vice officers are detectives or criminal investigators. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), detectives and criminal investigators earned an average salary of $90,370 as of May 2021. Those working for local law enforcement agencies earned an average salary of $78,730 as of May 2021, while those working at the state level earned about $70,470.

2021 US Bureau of Labor Statistics salary figures for detectives and criminal investigators. Job growth projections from the US Department of Labor-sponsored resource, Projections Central. Figures are based on national data, not school-specific information. Conditions in your area may vary. Data accessed August 2022.

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