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Does a Crime Scene Investigator analyse the evidence?

I'm looking at going into forensic science and I'm interested in collecting evidence at the crime scene, but I also want to analyse the evidence. I wasn't sure if there was a job/career that fit this.
#forensic_science #crime_scene_investigator #criminal-justice

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Mark’s Answer

Great question! As you can see from the previous couple of responses, the answer will depend on the agency itself. I suggest reviewing CSI jobs (crimesceneinvestigator.net) is a great resource for this, and you'll be able to review actual job descriptions for real jobs. You'll see, first hand, the variety of differing duties, including some jobs in which CSIs also engage in some analysis of the evidence. I personally worked within DoD. Our system allowed for me to collect evidence and engage in reconstruction activities, such as bloodstain pattern analysis, shooting trajectory/bullet path, etc. All other examinations (fingerprint, footwear, trace, DNA, documents, etc.) would occur at a centralized forensic laboratory.

Mark recommends the following next steps:

review actual job descriptions at crimesceneinvestigator.net
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David’s Answer

Most Law Enforcement Agencies (LEA's) have dedicated crime scene personnel and separate crime lab scientists. These CSI groups are a mix of sworn and non-sworn staff. In some agencies, these groups perform basic presumptive chemical testing on-site to determine if an item is a good candidate for collecting as evidence. These tests are mainly for biological stains such as blood etc. There are some crime scene responders who also perform blood pattern analysis. However, most forensic testing is conducted back in the dedicated forensic science labs.
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Hilary’s Answer

Great question! I have worked as a Crime Scene Investigator for almost 10 years now. The two agencies where I have worked have a dedicated Crime Scene Unit that responds to the scenes, collect the evidence and do any processing that is needed. It is a great career where you can really feel like you make a difference. You are on the front lines without being in a lot of danger (like sworn officers). That being said, there are not many of us who do our own laboratory analysis once we have collected the evidence. We write reports based on what we did on scene but we are not at liberty to render any kind of opinion.
I am sure that with some of the smaller agencies there is a need for a person to do the job of a CSI and possibly also analyze fingerprints or do some sort of digital forensic analysis. Most of the time those positions require a lot of special training and the need for a full time position is great. Another issue in analyzing your own evidence is some people would say that there is a bias that would come into play. Most agencies send their evidence off for analysis to remove themselves from that potential scenario.
Both careers are great options. I would say that you are able to follow along with what happens in your cases when you are the Crime Scene Investigator. You are privy to information shared by the detectives, reports from laboratory analysis, and ultimately testify in court and know the outcome of the trial. Of course, not every case goes this route but when they do it is satisfying to see the end result.
Best of luck to you!

Hilary recommends the following next steps:

Do a ride along with a local agency
Thank you comment icon I really appreciated you answering. Thank you! You have been very helpful Zainab
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Candace’s Answer

It depends on the type and size of the agency you work for.
For example, the lab I managed is from a local Sheriff’s Office. We responded to scenes, preserved, documented and collected items of evidence. If further processes ( DNA collection or latent prints) are required that was completed in our lab. We had a prescreening DNA lab that allowed testing for blood, saliva and semen.
CONFIRMATORY TESTING is done at our state lab FDLE. So if we obtained positive results, it was sent for confirmatory results.

Not all agencies have a prescreening lab. That requires additional training.

State labs or private labs do not respond to scenes. They only work in a lab atmosphere.

You will have to decide your path. I suggest doing an internship with a local agency, so you can see what you like. A degree in Biology or Forensic Science would allow you to work both.

I hope this helps.... Good luck.
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David’s Answer

Most law enforcement jurisdictions in my area of the country process crime scenes themselves. That means that detectives within the police department are the ones identifying, documenting and collecting the evidence. Most detectives have to have a base line of evidence collection skills. Some detectives within the police department will have further specialized skills and training and are typically utilized on more severe or larger scenes depending on the need. Now, once the evidence is collected, depending on the nature of the evidence and the need to gain further information from it will dictate what and who needs to further analyze that evidence. Our County has a centralized police services lab that handles many forensic needs such as ballistics, chemical analysis, DNA analysis, drug testing, etc. and some of the larger police departments will handle such things as fingerprint analysis by specifically trained police investigators or detectives. On the criminal defense and private industry side of things, the investigator is the one who still identifies, documents and collects the evidence much of the time but private companies with individual forensic specialists will then analyze the evidence in order to further answer questions about the case.
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Marc’s Answer

Some do and some don’t. It depends on the size of the Law enforcement organization that you are working for and the legal processes and policies of the department that you are working with. Some analysis process evidence, if they are required to have special training in fingerprint processing or blood spatter analysis, for example. The analysis prepares reports detailing how and where all the evidence was collected. An evidence technician is someone who gathers and processes crime scene evidence but is not necessarily a peace officer and is not involved in other aspects of investigating crimes.
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Adesoji’s Answer

Yes they can. They are to gather evidence that will ultimately lead to the detection and prosecution of criminals. They are civilian working in hands with the police in order to protect and save the communities. They are supportive staff who are employed by police forces. they prepares a written report detailing how and where all the evidence was collected.
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Debbie’s Answer

Hi! Some larger police departments will have a crime scene unit. People whose job it is to go to crime scenes at all hours to take pictures, collect evidence, measure distances/direction (blood spatter, bullet holes, car accident marks, etc), but they almost never do any analysis. Sometimes they might process/develop latent prints, and rarely they may actually do print comparisons. If you want to do both, your best bet is to find a small lab. I worked for a state lab in one of the small regional labs and I occasionally (meaning rarely) went out to crime scenes. I work in drugs and blood alcohol. Sections that go out to scenes more often include: toolmarks, fire/arson, and digital/computers. Unlike TV, you are either in the lab or outside, but not both. When you say "evidence," do you have something in mind? Because evidence is also pretty segregated. Blood alcohol and toxicology get blood and/or urine almost exclusively (sometimes vitreous humor, which is really gross when you think about it), latent print comparison gets fingerprints that they compare to other fingerprints, DNA gets samples of ....stuff. If you want variety, I suggest: Biology/Serology (you get the clothing, weapons, and other items and you have to find and extract the "stuff"), latent print processing (you get the items and you have to find and develop the fingerprints), drugs (powders, crystals, pipes, bongs, pills, liquids, paper), or firearms (you shoot guns and look at the bullets). I also highly suggest reading job announcements- it's the best way to learn what jobs entail and what education/experience is required. Final advice: forensic science jobs are very competitive. Take whatever agency/lab hires you, no matter where it is, and work there for at least 3 years. You'll get the training and experience you'll need to get a job in the location you where you want to live. Good luck!

Debbie recommends the following next steps:

Check out the American Academy of Forensic Sciences website: www.aafs.org. You'll find information about schools, programs, and jobs.
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