Introduction In comparison to aforensic scientist, the requirements to become a crime scene investigator arenot as strenuous. People who study forensic science as a degree are oftencompeting with other hard science majors who are seen as more desirable. Thetypical biology degree and chemistry degree often have more science coursesbecause their curriculum sets them up for prestigious careers and even moredegrees, such as a medical degree or a Ph.D.
It is difficult for a hiringmanager to consider an applicant with a forensic science degree more than anapplicant with a general pure science degree since they would like thatapplicant to be an expert in court. However, if the forensic science degreeapplicant were to already have references and even internship experience with acrime lab, then the applicant would appear more desirable since they would befamiliar with the professional environment. Where does that leave forensicscience degree applicants who do not have these opportunities? They could go tograduate school, or they could jump into crime scene investigation. Literature ReviewExpectationsfor Crime Scene Investigation Positions Often, police officers act as crime scene investigators sinceit is cheaper for agencies. Yet, now that juries are critical about how muchcare was taken in collecting evidence and if the evidence found was of goodquality, new police officers given the crime scene processing task seem to haveless knowledge of what to look for in comparison to someone with a forensicscience degree (Julian, Kelty, Robertson, 2012).
As Kelty mentions in her articleon the best strategy to hiring quality crime scene examiners, she recognizeshaving a degree from a university with solid understanding of principles ofscience along with experience in the field are part of the solid skills that anideal crime scene examiner would have (2011). The newly graduated forensicscience major looks more favorable than a police officer since they have morescientific knowledge fresh out of the university versus a police officer freshout of the academy. Crime scene investigators are relied on to find evidencefor the forensic science lab to work on, and a newly graduated forensic sciencemajor would have a lot more attention to detail due to their forensic sciencecoursework, being able to pay attention to trace evidence that an averagepolice officer without experience would miss (Julian, Kelty, Robertson 2012).However, this is still an experience-based profession where the more experienceyou have had in processing crime scenes, the better performance you have as acrime scene investigator (Kelty 2011; Groen and Berger 2017).
NewWays to Study the Scene Forensic scientists that want to get better at theirprofession from home can study new scientific developments in their spare time.Crime scene investigators have to rely on what they remember about what toexpect at specific types of crime scenes. This is because it is generallythought that each crime scene is unique and trying to predict what a criminalis going to do is not a feasible feat (Groen and Berger 2017). To support thisis to argue against what archaeologists study before they go to an excavationsite where they recognize that there are patterns that can be seen in theirexcavations which helps them find their artifacts from the past. Archaeology uses science in order to conclude how ancientpeople lived. The way they use the scientific involves observing a piece of thepast, making a hypothesis about that piece, experimenting with that piece inorder to collect data for interpretation, analyzing the data, and coming upwith a conclusion.
The science in crime scene investigation is done in the sameway, however crime scene technicians are heavily scrutinized due to howsensitive their casework is. Much of their methods are questioned in court onif they are even scientific or not, despite archaeologists who do almost thesame thing rarely ever having such a problem. However, archaeologists happen tohave “quantitative and qualitative empirical databases” which are from analysisof past excavations which they use as research material (Groen and Berger, p.481, 2017).
They have models of what they believe humans did while alivechronologically, being considered to have reconstructed the past in a way thatis considered acceptable in the scientific community (Groen and Berger 2017). Groenand Berger’s comparison between archaeology and crime scene investigationasserts that by applying this way of researching crime scenes into databasesthat can be studied for future use, this could help in making crime sceneinvestigation more scientific by giving something for crime scene investigatorsto research while not on a scene, analyze theories on reasons for finding ornot finding certain evidence, and generally help crime scene investigators whohave poor performance in knowing what to look for on a scene (2017). Northamptonshire police in the United Kingdom dohave a crime database on their computers consisting of the cases they haveencountered, but they do not use it for knowing what to expect to see atdifferent types of crime scenes (Adderley, Townsley, Bond 2007). The data theycollect are activity records from crime scene investigators which include thetime and day they started processing the scene, the time and day they finishedprocessing the scene, the forensic evidence they were able to find, and theresults of the examination of the forensic evidence found. They have theability to organize their data through data mining with the cross industrystandard process for data mining (CRISP-DM) methodology and were able to seehow much evidence was collected from the crime scene and whether the evidencefound was useful in the investigation or not in order to determine how well thecrime scene investigator did at processing a scene. Adderley, Townsley, andBond already mention in that same article that it has been a recommended datamining methodology for crime detection (2007). If this police department wasable to analyze their crime scene investigators using a crime database thatthey frequently update, pushing law enforcement departments into uploadingcrime scene data for crime scene investigators can be done and would benefitcrime scene investigation research. Methodology Groen and Bergerpropose a series of steps crime scene investigators could follow in order tomake crime scene investigating more than just extensive notetaking,documentation, and collecting evidence by applying archaeological researchmethods to crime scene investigations (2007).
The first thing a crime sceneinvestigator should be doing is researching crime scenes by learning about thedifferent patterns you could see in similar crime cases and what also makesthem different from each other, such as the difference between a robbery in arural and urban areas along with possible hypotheses for what caused a piece ofevidence to appear in one case that has the same type of hypothetical crime andnot in another one, leading to more questions to learn from. Detailed notestaken could even help with simulating the crime in order to test out hypotheses.Also noting the amount of quality evidence recovered by comparing differentcrime scene evidence searching techniques and comparing the type of crimescenes can help a crime scene investigator decide on the best searching methodsin order to find valuable evidence that could be missed. A walkthrough once onthe scene would be the next expected step once called on to investigate whichwould consist of heavy notetaking which is normally done at a scene. Yet,questions should still be circulating the crime scene investigator’s mind andcompare what they see in real life to what they were reading prior to theirarrival on the scene. After walking through the scene, hypotheses about whathappened should be thought about before beginning the part of the investigationwhere actions such as recording the locations of evidence using photography,measuring the space of the crime scene, and collecting evidence should occurbecause a crime scene can only be processed once.
Note what evidence you thinkyou might find according to your multiple hypotheses may be and consider ifthey need comparison samples such as a control swab. Once you established aplan, then investigation that involves searching actively for the evidenceusing your decided search strategy can be done, which would eventually lead todocumentation and collection. You should have a reason for why you decided onyour actions which would help explain yourself while writing your report lateron, testifying in court, and in adding on to the database for research by othercrime scene investigators. The goal is to be able to reconstruct the scene fromyour investigation documentation that you give back to the database.
Havinghigh end technology that can scan while you search the scene would be the mostbeneficial, but using mapping techniques that archaeologists use could alsosuffice. Making a list of what you found and organizing it by evidence typewould be a side step and can act as a checklist and can help you remember ifcertain evidence needs presumption tests and controls. Looking over your notesafter the scene has been investigated, hypotheses can continue to be thought ofand ruled out. Getting a record of the site plan, especially if it is insidethe building should be tried in order to further your analysis and help thedatabase in the case a crime occurs there again.