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Whatever Happened To The First 48 Fan Favorite Detective Ritter?

Detective Justin Ritter was a popular fixture on A&E's true crime series "The First 48." Primarily focusing on the Tulsa Police Department, "The First 48" follows real-life detectives and crimes, and the show is called that because of a police statistic. According to A&E, most detectives believe that the first 48 hours after a homicide are the most critical, and if detectives aren't able to establish a solid lead, the chances of solving the crime decrease significantly. This means that detectives are often worked into a frenzy for the two days after a crime, and this forms the backbone and real-life drama of "The First 48."

Having premiered in 2004, "The First 48" has seen several members of law enforcement come and go. As noted by IMDb, Ritter made his first appearance in the 2015 episode, "The Passenger/Death Call," and he appeared in over 50 episodes of the popular show. However, Ritter is no longer such a permanent figure on "The First 48." So what happened, and what has he been up to?

Justin Ritter's absence in The First 48 is due to a promotion

It turns out that the reason for Detective Justin Ritter's absence from "The First 48" comes from a very real aspect of detective work — promotions. Announcing Ritter's promotion on Facebook in January 2019, and noting that he is leaving the homicide unit featured on "The First 48," the Tusla Police Department congratulated the detective on his promotion and noted that he will be moving to a field division, which will be greatly aided by Ritter's extensive experience.

As such, even though Ritter is no longer on "The First 48," he has continued to work for the Tulsa PD, as illustrated by a post on Twitter in March 2019, where Ritter gives an update on a crime. However, despite his promotion, Ritter made a last surprise appearance in the 2021 episode, "Out of the Darkness," which dealt with one of his former cases and gave the veteran law enforcement agent some closure on that particular investigation. According to A&E, Ritter was promoted to the rank of Corporal before leaving the homicide department in 2019, and since then, has been promoted to Lieutenant and oversees the Gilcrease Division.

Ritter has been promoted several times

This means that somewhere along this timeline, Justin Ritter had also gained the rank of Sergeant, which is between the ranks of Corporal and Lieutenant. As clarified by Columbia Southern University, the rank of Corporal is usually given to officers who have displayed exceptional qualities; while Sergeant is usually given for the same reason, it comes with far more responsibility and sometimes requires candidates to have a college degree. Lieutenant demands even more work, which Chron says usually requires around seven years of dedicated and upstanding service, as well as the completion of a written exam and interview, though the levels of experience may vary from precincts and departments.

On the bright side, even though Ritter no longer spends much time in front of A&E cameras, there is still the chance that he may make additional surprise appearances. That's assuming any of his former cases come up, but as mentioned earlier, crimes that aren't immediately solved have a good chance of becoming a cold case. But that doesn't mean they aren't ever solved. Either way, fans can rest easy knowing that Lieutenant Ritter is still fighting the good fight, even though they don't really get a chance to see it on television.