The Role of a Crime Scene Investigator
A crime scene investigator (CSI) is also known as a scenes of crime officer (SOCO). The work of a CSI involves correlation with the police while investigating serious crime scenes. They sometimes dress in plain clothes or uniforms like police officers. Crime scene investigators are usually civilians that are trained to investigate crimes. The investigations can vary in terms of the seriousness of the crime, which can range from burglary to vehicle crimes, rape and murder.
Crime scene investigators are usually the first ones to arrive at a crime scene along with police officers. They investigate finger prints, palm prints, retrieve records and collect any other forensic data or evidence. This also includes collecting DNA samples that are recovered from stolen properties and the crime scene. Once all the evidence is collected, the crime scene investigator makes sure it is well preserved (regardless of how difficult the circumstances may be) using appropriate preserving methods. In addition, they also take photographs of the crime scene, which are later used to identify and convict the offenders. The investigator also takes the decision of whether or not a forensic scientist will be needed at the crime scene.
After visiting the crime scene, the crime scene investigator has to produce accurate records (written and diagrammatic) of where each piece of evidence was retrieved from and what position it was found in. He/she is particularly responsible for updating and maintaining the system with recovered evidence as the investigations continue. Sometimes, the investigator may also be required to interview the crime victims or attend court to present the evidence collected. At times, CSIs can also be required to be present during post mortems.
Actions and Activities
A crime scene investigator is almost always accountable for the initial assessment of the crime scene. In the event of completing the assigned duties, he/she will be required to undertake the following actions and activities:
• Crime assessment
• Preparing diagrams and sketches
• Taking photographs
• Producing a written formal description of the evidence collection techniques
• Taking measurements
• Packing, preserving and transferring the evidence
• Summarizing and interpreting the evidence collected
• Presenting testimony in court
• Retrieving, analyzing, entering and saving collected data on a computer
• Verifying the accuracy of every data entered
• Ensuring that the data is updated where necessary
• Preparing the investigation reports
• Utilizing the information database (of the criminal)
• Using relevant software when analyzing data on computerized systems
• Assisting the forensic scientist where needed
• Participating in police briefings and conferences
• Ensuring that the required equipment is maintained
• Continuing education and taking classes to advance in the field
The job requirements of a crime scene investigator can vary depending on the degree courses he/she completed or graduated from. Entering the criminal investigation field opens several more career options for students. Other than a bachelor’s degree, there are also other courses that can be taken to enhance the current qualification. The other degree courses that are relevant to criminal investigation studies include Environment Protection, Accidental Investigation, Customs, Drug Research, Forensic sciences and others.
You can visit the My Criminal Justice Degree website to find out more about other relevant degree courses and universities.