POLICE Magazine

SEP 2017

Magazine for police and law enforcement

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40 POLICE SEPTEMBER 2017 MODEL A NEW MINDSET Tranter believes the shift toward the acceptance of civilian CSIs has occurred because of advances in forensic technology. "ere is so much to learn now," she says. "It's become more science- based. We now need CSIs who have the education, skills, and mindset to think about a crime scene scientifically." As this paradigm shift took place, so too did a shift in law en- forcement's views on what makes a good CSI. Pennica points out that in the past, the old-school CSI had a mindset that leaned toward law enforcement rather than science, but that mindset doesn't work well in today's high-tech forensic world. guy—and it's the right bad guy." Parker likens it to putting together a jigsaw puzzle, but without the picture on the box to guide you. "We get this 500-piece jigsaw puzzle and its thrown all over the room, but the box with the pic- ture on it is gone. We don't know what we are trying to build so it's very important we take the physical evidence and put it together correctly to paint a picture for the criminal justice system. But not everyone is good at putting together a puzzle like this." In this scenario, the Greensboro PD and the bureau look for an educational background in science. "It doesn't need to be a major in science, but candidates do need some sort of scientific background," says Pennica. PRACTICE GOOD POLICY Hiring civilians is not possible, however, without full depart- ment buy-in for non-sworn CSIs, which begins at the top, agree Pennica and Tranter. Before making the move, department leaders need to have open discussions with sworn officers about the reason for the change, the skills the department seeks in the civilian coun- terparts, what will be expected of these hires, and the fact that sworn and non-sworn CSIs will be treated the same. "e conversation we've had with our sworn CSIs has been, 'How often do you really use your power?'" says Pennica, who notes that in the bureau CSIs are never put in a position where they take enforcement action. "We've found that the sworn officers who really care about the agency and want to see it flourish accept the change because there are not many cops out there with degrees in forensic sci- ence," he adds. "But there are a lot of smart, highly energetic CIVILIAN CSIS "Basically, we're now looking for sworn officers who think like scientists," says Pennica. "But enforcing laws, stopping cars, in- terviewing witnesses, and interacting with suspects is a whole different ball game than taking a scientific approach to collect forensic evidence at a crime scene. ey are completely different skillsets." So, what does make a good CSI? Well, Parker says whether someone is sworn or civilian is not on his list. What does top his list is a good sense of logical deduction. He explains, "In the crime scene world, you're taking a lot of nebu- lous information that's being thrown at you from victims, detec- tives, even law enforcement. en you have physical evidence you are interpreting in conjunction with all this other informa- tion. You have got to be able to sort through that logically to de- duce what likely happened. If you do it right, you catch the bad "We now need CSIs who have the education, skills, and mindset to think about a crime scene scientifically." —Kelly Tranter, director of Greensboro Police Department's Forensic Services Division young professionals with these degrees who couldn't care less about the gun and the badge; they just want to use science to solve crimes." Once civilian CSIs are on staff, it's essential that command staff set the example. "If you have a sergeant showing biases to- ward civilian CSIs, that's going to trickle down to patrol officers," says Tranter. "ere has to be a cultural shift that trickles from the top down." Policy should also treat everyone the same. At the bureau, ev- eryone is issued the same color uniforms to create greater unity among staff. Its pay scale for civilian and sworn CSIs is also the same. Bureau CSIs start at $43,500 and their pay goes up for every year of experience, if they know a foreign language, if they have a master's degree, and so on. e bureau also changed its overtime system and made it uni- form for sworn and civilian CSIs. Pennica explains that a sworn officer can work 160 hours in a 28-day cycle. ey only receive overtime after they exceed 160 hours. us, a department can have them work 80 hours one week, 80 hours the next week, and PHOTO: POLICE FILE

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