POLICE Magazine

SEP 2017

Magazine for police and law enforcement

Issue link: https://policemag.epubxp.com/i/869708

Contents of this Issue


Page 41 of 60

PoliceMag.com 39 2009, when Sam Pennica, director of the bureau, says they were struggling to get an adequate—and qualified—applicant pool for open CSI positions. "We needed applicants with a science back- ground, with a passion for and a desire to do crime scene work," he says. "We were getting a lot of applicants chasing a dollar because our pay is good, but we needed more highly trained and educated applicants with training in forensic science." Eventually, Wake County voted to approve putting civilians in this role, and in 2010 the department hired its first civilian CSI. is employee came to the bureau with a bachelor's degree in anthropology; two master's degrees, one in criminology and the other in forensic science; and on-the-job forensic experience. "She set the bar pretty high, and she proved to us that there were people out there wanting to get into forensic science who did not want to carry a gun and a badge and be a sworn officer. Our first applicant said she wanted to be able to solve crimes with her brain," Pennica says. He adds this candidate proved she could do that almost immediately. Pennica says she showed "I can do this job as good as, if not bet- ter than, the officers with guns and badges, and she quickly earned everyone's respect." When this hire was made, the bureau had 22 CSIs, all of whom were sworn. Today, the bureau still employs 22 CSIs, but only eight are sworn. e Greensboro PD handles things a bit differently. is agency has 18 civilian CSIs, and four civilian CSI supervisors. e field CSIs provide 24/7 service and go to calls on their own, or when an officer takes a report and realizes he needs a CSI at the scene. "Additionally, our non-sworn CSIs respond as solo units, and share call responsibilities with patrol for calls involv- ing property crimes, vehicle break-ins, and residential burglar- ies—calls where the suspect is no longer on the scene," says Kelly Tranter, director of the department's Forensic Services Division. At these types of calls, the department dispatches a single CSI to take the report and do follow-up processing. Greensboro also has a forensic team, which consists of four civilian CSIs who hold the position of forensic specialist. ese employees work Monday through Friday and maintain an on- call status. eir primary responsibility is to serve as lead CSIs on homicide cases. If there haven't been any homicides, these individuals work in the lab handling trace evidence and other laboratory service requests. Civilians with an educational background in science have skills needed by CSIs in today's world. PHOTO: AMAURY MURGADO CSIS Law enforcement agencies are finding a blended approach of utilizing civilians as CSIs provides the best of both worlds. RONNIE GARRETT ➔ ➔ In less than an hour, television crime scene investi- gators (CSIs) regularly and easily solve grisly murders and other crimes through fingerprints, DNA, and oth- er forms of futuristic forensic science. ese virtual CSIs partner police work with forensic science to get the bad guys off the streets. However, working as a CSI is far less glamorous than televi- sion portrays, and the reality is very different than what viewers see characters Horatio Caine, Temperance (Bones) Brennan, and Abby Sciuto doing on TV. While these shows have CSIs interrogating suspects and ar- resting perpetrators, in real life, CSIs shoulder different respon- sibilities. eir role is to help police detectives solve crimes by collecting and analyzing the physical evidence found at a crime scene, and interpreting what happened during the crime. ey do not arrest the bad guys; police officers put on the cuffs. In a world where the above scenario, not the televised version, is reality, the debate be- tween using sworn and civilian CSIs rages on. ere are those who believe that all individuals stepping across the yellow barrier designating a crime scene should be sworn officers, while others find the role of CSI has become so high- tech that the only way to succeed is to go with civilians possessing a scientific background. However, some departments are finding one way is not necessarily better than the other. POLICE Maga- zine recently interviewed two departments to learn how they are handling this issue. One department, the Greensboro (NC) Police Department, has been using non-sworn staff to document crime scenes for more than 30 years. e second department employed only sworn CSIs until 2010 when it hired its first civilian CSI. Today, the Raleigh-Wake County City-County Bureau of Identification in Raleigh, NC, relies on the work of both sworn and civilian CSIs. "Years ago, all of our CSIs were sworn, but we have moved away from that. Now we employ the best candidate for the job, whether it's a sworn officer or someone with a scientific back- ground, and we've found that works very, very well," says Andy Parker, deputy director of the bureau. SOLVING CRIMES WITH SCIENCE Raleigh-Wake County City-County Bureau of Identification was created by the North Carolina Assembly in 1937. From its incep- tion, CSIs were to be sworn individuals, which was fine until about

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of POLICE Magazine - SEP 2017