How to become a Crime Scene Investigator Dale Langston March 25 2010 How to become a Crime Scene Investigator Police and detective work can be dangerous and stressful. Competition should remain keen for higher paying jobs with State and Federal agencies and police departments in affluent areas. Opportunities will be better in local and special police departments that offer relatively low salaries or in urban communities where the crime rate is relatively high. Applicants with college training in police science or military police experience should have the best opportunities.
Because Law enforcement is a demanding field you must be prepared to work long hours, be physically fit and have a clean criminal record. How to become a Crime Scene Investigator Crime scene investigators are responsible for carrying out complex crime scene investigations. They are accountable for the initial evaluation of the scene, and use various types of equipment to cultivate, secure, and package any physical evidence found at the scene, which will later be used for scientific comparison and evaluation.
Crime scene investigators write up and organize detailed reports on the activities being carried out at the scene and the observations made. These reports are then given to the law enforcement agency in charge of investigating the crime. Crime scene investigators may also be asked to testify in court in regards to their findings and the processing methods that were used at the scene Crime scene investigators oversee a myriad of complex crime scenes such as home invasions, sexual assaults, burglaries and other property crimes, homicides, and armed robberies.
Assessing and processing the crime scene, packaging and transferring evidence, viewing and photographing autopsies, participating in conferences and briefings with police agencies, (Douglas, J. E. 2005) takes up an estimated 70% of an investigators work day. The rest of their time is spent maintaining equipment, preparing investigative reports, testifying in court, teaching classes, and continuing their education. Most crime scene investigators work a regular 40-hour work week Monday through Friday.
However, they must be willing to work standby duty, an after-hours shift normally every other week. Investigators on standby must be available by phone or pager at all times in order to respond to calls for assistance. (Douglas, J. E. 2005) In addition to standby duty, many crime scene investigators are required to respond to emergency calls 24 hours a day. It is important for crime scene investigators to be in good physical condition. Examination of the crime scene often requires investigators to stoop, and kneel for extended periods of time. Justice Research Association, 2000) Other physical demands placed on an investigator may include climbing, reaching, and manipulating and caring objects of varying shapes, sizes and weight. Investigators are required to carry firearms and may use their assigned firearms and other weapons in carrying out police enforcement responsibilities. These responsibilities can include physical labor and endurance as well, and may pose various risks to the investigators physical and mental well being.
Hiring criteria for crime scene investigators is based on the knowledge of police investigative techniques the applicant is able to demonstrate, along with their knowledge of search and seizure procedures, and an understanding of their specific role in the criminal prosecution process. (Lambert, S. E. & Regan, D. , 2001) Crime scene investigators must possess or gain a comprehensive knowledge of their departments and division’s specific policies and practices in relation to his or her position.
The procedures and pertinent case laws differ from state to state and it is important that the investigator have a clear understanding of the laws in his/her jurisdiction. (Lambert, S. E. & Regan, D. , 2001) In addition to specific skills needed in order to process a crime scene, applicants must also be skilled in the fields of anatomy, chemistry, forensics, and general science. Potential crime scene investigators must also be eligible to carry a weapon, exercise power or arrest, and hold a valid driver’s license.
Crime scene investigation may include everything from rape and murder cases to drug crimes and missing person’s cases. Investigators are required to use scientific skill and reasoning to evaluate the evidence found at crime scenes to find answers and solve crime. Education requirements may vary, depending upon the area in which you wish to find employment, and you may need to become a police officer. Generally, an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in criminal justice is required, and an internship with a local police team will give you the experience you need to enter into the workforce.
Though the hours required may be unconventional and often longer than many other jobs, using your scientific skills and knowledge to solve crime can be incredibly rewarding. References Douglas, J. E. (2005). John Douglas’s guide to landing a career in law enforcement. New York, McGraw-Hill: xxii, 325 p. Justice Research Association. (2000). Your criminal justice career : a guidebook. Upper Saddle River, N. J. , Prentice Hall. Lambert, S. E. ; Regan, D. (2001). Great jobs for criminal justice majors. Great jobs for. Chicago, VGM Career Books: xv, 271 p.