Get a Clue

Meridian Police detective Ryan Rhoades shares what it takes to unravel real crime mysteries

Magnifying glass on laptop keyboard searc for online documents background

Getty Images/iStockphoto

Magnifying glass on laptop keyboard searc for online documents background

Zetta Louis, reporter

I wanted to get to the bottom of my obsession with TV detectives. I wanted to see if the glamorous life portrayed on the big screen was actually reality. So I interviewed Meridian detective Ryan Rhoades to get to the bottom of things.

One of my burning questions was how detective work differs from how it’s portrayed on television.

“I think the biggest difference between real detective work and what you see on TV is how much time is consumed just by typing,” Rhoades said. “It can take well over a work day to simply type the information you gather from a one-hour interview, let alone any follow up interviews on a single case.

“Another big difference is the turnaround time on processing evidence. When we send something to the lab for testing it takes multiple weeks or even months before we get the results rather than getting them in a fifteen minute window.”

What does it take to become a detective? According to Rhoades, there are two routes to become a detective. Earning a college diploma or joining the military would be one way, or you could simply apply to become a police officer or sheriff’s deputy. From there,  a career beginning on patrol would lead into an area of specialty. For instance, if my beat was full of missing persons cases, I might enjoy a career as a people detective. Or if property crimes are big in my area, I may want to specialize in property cases.

On the job, potential detectives work closely shadowing other detectives and eventually work their way up in three to four years to apply for open detective positions.

In the meantime as a high schooler, I wondered what I could be doing to prepare—and Rhoades had the answer.

“A student that has a good grasp on communication and an ability to type,” Rhoades said. “As well as someone that can learn quickly, are good attributes. You also have to have a good work ethic to really succeed.”

High school and college classes that would be helpful to focus on include psychology, sociology, criminology, and law.

Though I thought it was merely collecting evidence, interviewing witnesses, and testifying in court that made you a successful detective, after my interview I realized there it is not as glamorous as the TV portrays it to be.

While I am back to the drawing board on finding an occupation that suits me best, I will continue to watch TV detectives and solve their cases with them from the comfort of my couch.