A crime scene technician assists law enforcement agencies in the investigation of crimes analyzing evidence left at the scene. Collecting evidence, analyzing data in lab settings, and presenting findings in both written and oral reports are their primary responsibilities. Many technicians work for police departments directly, but they can also work independently contracting out their services on a freelance basis.
Workplace Environments and Workplace Types
Examining crime scenes is usually an important part of determining exactly what happened in the moments leading up to a crime, especially when the facts are hazy or no witnesses are available. Police and fire departments, crime laboratories, and government agencies, to name a few, all have a high demand for crime scene technicians. In general, the field is very broad, and technicians can specialize in a variety of fields.
Taking Security Measures and Examining the Situation
Directly working with police and fire investigators, technicians are usually dispatched to crime scenes. They collaborate with forensic experts to investigate the surrounding area, taking measurements and noting features as well as gathering evidence. Multiple technicians are frequently assigned to a case under the direction and supervision of a “lead” or “chief” technician. Others will collect physical evidence such as blood droplets or bullet casings, while others will take photographs of the scene. Working in this type of environment can be stressful, especially if the case involves a death or a violent assault.
Evidence gathering and laboratory work
It is not always necessary to conduct direct fieldwork. Many crime scene technicians only work with evidence that has already been collected, conducting tests and analyzing hair and blood samples in laboratories. Every crime laboratory has its own set of procedures for identifying, collecting, and recording evidence. It is the responsibility of the crime scene technician to follow these instructions to the letter, as evidence identification methods are critical in determining who is responsible and must be defended in a court of law.
Administrative and reporting responsibilities
The crime scene technician’s final task is to write a report that details the evidence gathered, the procedures used, and the results of any tests. To ensure that all standard questions are answered and a proper, logical trail is provided, this report must follow a specific format. The crime scene technician may be called to testify about the information in the report if the case goes to trial.
Education and training are required.
A high school diploma and a specialized certification or degree in forensics, criminal procedure, or crime scene investigation are usually required of crime scene technicians. These types of certification programs are frequently offered community colleges and technical schools, usually as two-year associate’s degrees. Candidates can also earn four-year bachelor’s degrees, which may qualify them for a higher pay grade in some cases but are rarely required. In order to handle evidence or view police files, crime scene technicians may need to pass licensure or certification exams, depending on the jurisdiction.
Personal Qualities and Positive Characteristics
The highest levels of satisfaction in the crime scene technician field are found among those who enjoy working independently, are detail-oriented, and take pride in their organizational abilities. Excellent communication, a willingness to follow directions, and a dedication to accuracy are also essential. Personal bias can have a negative impact on the quality of work, so maintaining a professional level of emotional detachment is also necessary.