In most police departments, officer salaries are paid on the basis of rank and seniority. Because of this, special assignment detectives such as those working in Miami’s homicide department earn the same salaries as those of a similar rank and time in the force in another department. Usually holding the rank of lieutenant, homicide detectives in Miami help unravel some of the city’s most violent crimes.
Although the Bureau of Labor Statistics doesn’t track the number of detectives who work in each special division, approximately 2,860 detectives work in the Miami Police Department and the departments in nearby Fort Lauderdale and Miami Beach. Detectives and criminal investigators in the city earn a median annual salary of $69,320 as of May 2009, although the best-paid 10 percent receive at least $99,040 each year. The half of all detectives in the city with earnings closest to the median income earn between $56,880 and $87,720.
Homicide detectives in the Miami Police Department also receive a wide package of benefits in addition to their base salary. All officers on the force receive 11 paid holidays a year, and a variable amount of sick leave, vacation time and personal leave time depending upon their rank and seniority. Officers assigned to a special department, such as homicide, receive special assignment pay in addition to their base pay, in accordance with their rank and seniority. Officers receive a clothing allowance, life insurance, admission into a pension plan and health insurance as part of their compensation packages.
Comparison to National Average Salaries
Detectives in Miami earn about 12 percent more than the national average for police detectives and criminal investigators. Nationwide, detectives receive a median annual salary of $62,110 as of May 2009, according to the BLS, with half of all detectives earning annual salaries between $47,070 and $83,650. Although the cost of living in Miami is slightly higher than the national average -- about 5 percent according to the St. Louis Regional Chamber and Growth Association -- its detectives still earn higher than average wages when their salaries convert to real, localized spending power.
Officers who wish to work as a homicide investigator must work their way up through the ranks of the Miami Police Department. To be eligible for employment, applicants must pass a screening for illegal drug use, submit to a background check and take a polygraph examination. Officers must perform to department standards on its physical agility test, which measures speed, strength and the ability to overcome obstacles, and be certified as fit to serve by a physician.