Crime Scene Investigators

The recent trend in television shows appears to be centered on the world of forensic science. With the introduction of shows like CSI, the role of crime scene investigators has been put under the spotlight to a certain extent. Many professionals have aired their opinion that while there are elements of truth to the CSI episodes they are also vastly exaggerated in many cases. For example, these shows indicate a very fast-paced work environment with instantaneous lab results and high-tech tools. In fact, CSI work tends to be much slower and limited budgets tend restrict the availability of cutting-edge technology.

The Crime Scene Team

Crime scene investigation rarely utilizes just one forensic professional. In addition to professionals who process DNA and fingerprints, CSI departments will usually incorporate dental experts, insect experts, pathologists and ballistics experts into their team. In some cases, forensics experts with much more specific knowledge may be brought in. All of these professionals have qualifications and experience in forensics and criminal justice.

Long and In-Depth Investigation

The work of a crime scene investigator is generally much more painstaking and slower than depicted on television. Lab results can take days, or even weeks before they are returned and the actual process of documenting the crime scene is a tedious process indeed. Absolutely everything must be recorded using photographs, in-depth notes, and software-created reconstructions.

The Use of Computers and Software

While it is sometimes necessary to physically reconstruct a crime scene and the crime itself, it has become more commonplace to use computers and software. This software is capable of analyzing many different factors. In some cases it can be used to accurately predict what occurred leading up to the committing of the crime. Computer software and technology has begun to play a very large part in the analysis of crime scenes.

Fingerprint technology has advanced incredibly and in this respect, the television shows serializing the life of a CSI are relatively accurate. A fingerprint can be photographed and emailed to the laboratory where it is identified and matched against possible suspects. However, DNA evidence can still take days or weeks to find a match. Technology is definitely improving but, as yet, the near instant results gained on TV shows are not possible.

The Length of Time to Analyze a Crime Scene

Generally speaking, the biggest difference between television and real-life investigations is the time it takes to analyze a crime scene and solve the crime. Clearly, television shows can’t be long and drawn out and must pack a lot into a one hour episode. However, real life cases can take weeks, months or even years to solve. The processing of evidence alone is certainly not a one-day job.

A Crime Scene Investigator Investigates Crime Scenes

A career as a CSI of any specialty is a more mundane and routine one than you might believe. A CSI does not chase criminals; this is left to the police detectives. Crime scene investigators are responsible solely for the analysis of evidence and the construction of facts.

The Different CSI Roles

One sense of realism is the importance that forensic scientists play in the role of solving crimes.

Odontologists specialize in identifying a body by its teeth. In cases where the body has become so badly damaged it is unrecognizable, the teeth are often the only method left to form an identification. However, the odontologist can often provide much more information than this. The age and sex of a victim can usually be determined and, in some cases, it is possible to determine the origin of that person and their social standing.

An entomologist studies insects and insect behavior. This can be particularly useful in determining the time of death. It is also possible to identify the area a person was killed as well as the cause of death in some cases. The nature of the work and the in-depth study means that it can take days or weeks to provide reliable and accurate facts.

Pathologists study the body itself. As well as being able to provide a cause of death and usually a time of death and other physiological information, pathologists often find vital evidence that may have otherwise been overlooked.

Your Suitability as A CSI

A crime scene investigation is a long an arduous task involving many people with different specialties. One word of warning that most forensic scientists will give is that you will see some horrific sites and be expected to deal with them on a regular basis. While the tasks at hand may become routine, the more specific cases can be far from routine. A CSI needs to be painstakingly methodical and have a keen eye for detail. New techniques and theories are being introduced all the time and it is necessary to stay ahead of these.

Additional Resources

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