Crime Scene Investigators work with police to individuals or groups of people suspected of a committing a criminal act. They do their job by collecting evidence and data from the crime scene. They take these items and identify, classify, and analyze them. Sometimes called forensic science technicians, these investigators are extremely important during trials.
They testify based on their findings to help the jury declare a person innocent or guilty. Crime Scene Investigators will usually have a degree in Criminal Justice with a background in science. Some small, rural areas may hire someone with a simple high school diploma or a GED. Investigators require on the job training through an apprenticeship. This puts them with seasoned veterans to learn proper methodology and procedures to follow when examining a crime scene and processing the evidence collected. If criminal investigators work in a crime lab, they have to have DNA-analysis training which could take anywhere from six to twelve months to complete. Crime Scene Investigators also need Firearm Analysis training, which can take up to three months to complete.
The employment rate of Crime Scene Investigators is expected to grow by 19 percent through 2020. The average annual salary for Crime Scene Investigators in 2010 was $51,570. Of course, this was based on the degree, experience, and the location of the area that needed a Crime Scene Investigator.
How a crime scene investigation works is there will be quite a few people from various offices from various locations at the crime scene. The police are usually the first to get to the crime scene. They will sometimes make an arrest on the spot if the person responsible for the crime is still at the scene of the crime or the cop might need to call an ambulance.
They have a great responsibility to maintain a secure crime scene. The CSI unit will be at the crime scene gathering information and documenting the crime scene. The district attorney could also be there to see if the investigators need to get search warrants or not. If there is a death involved in the crime, the Medical Examiner will be called in. There could also be other forensic scientists called to the crime scene if their
expertise is needed. Detectives will be there working with the CSI unit. They will also interview witnesses and try to determine what might have taken place and what caused it.
The first thing to happen when the CSI unit arrives at the crime scene is they perform a walk through of the crime scene. They will try to find out if anything has been moved or removed from the crime scene. They will take pictures, draw sketches, and document everything at the crime scene. Next, they comb the crime scene collecting, tagging, and packaging evidence. These items will be taken to the crime lab to be examined. The results of the tests performed will be sent to the investigator in charge of the case. Joe Clayton works as a Laboratory Agent and primary scene responder for the Colorado Bureau of Investigation. He says, “I may be involved in actual bench work once the evidence from the crime scene is submitted to the lab.” This is because he has a background in different areas from blood splatter to “questioned” documents.
According to an article in the Crime Scene Journal website, author Michael F. LaForte speaks of the unstable economy and the budget cuts. This affects law enforcement agencies as well. Funding is cut, people are laid off, salaries are cut, and hiring is frozen. There are still options for crime scene training. Someone could pay to have their training done through various courses offered through colleges.
The other option would be to train yourself. This option would be cheaper. He gave the example of burglary and robbery investigations. He went along and learned abou the types of powders to use when finger printing from different objects. The hands-on experience was great for him. If you are already in law enforcement, there are other training sources available through the National Forensic Academy. There are also books and other training options available.