By Martin A. David
Crime Scene Investigators (CSI) consider the best way to preserve evidence, determine tests a forensics lab can perform on evidence and discuss potential legal issues involved in assuring evidence will be admissible in court. But that’s hardly all there is to the job.
Read on for the juicy details of CSI work from an interview with crime scene investigator Jerry Devlin and then discover the seven must-have skills of a CSI.
“Sometimes I think of myself as a scientist, and sometimes I think of myself as a cop,” says Gerald “Jerry” Devlin, a Crime Scene Investigator who works in the police department of a small Northern California city.
We asked Devlin to describe a typical day in his work life.
“Well, when I’m lucky, I’m one of the first people on the scene of a crime after it has been reported. I get there before the regular police personnel and the local press have tramped around and messed things up.”
Some parts of the job, according to Devlin, are pretty routine. Other parts are adventures right out of an action movie.
“The most important rule in my work is to keep my eyes open. What I do is to look for evidence and then use scientific principles to analyze it. It could be paint chips or it could be hair or it could be bits of human flesh or bones. Almost anything can be a clue. I also usually photograph and sketch details of the crime scene. I have to take notes about everything I see because I often get called on to testify in court.”
After he gathers and examines the evidence, Devlin packages and labels it for use by the police, the prosecutors and defense attorneys. Devlin considers this the “routine” part of his CSI profession.
How did Devlin get into his current profession?
“I was an ordinary police officer, and I realized I wanted to go higher. I had a wife and a young kid and I couldn’t just quit my job to go back to school. So I found an online college and enrolled. I was able to study for a few hours every night after they went to bed. After a pretty short time, I had my CSI certificate and I was able to take and pass the Crime Scene Investigator exam. So here I am.”
Are you interested in becoming a crime scene investigator? For more information on personal skills needed for the job, read our article on 7 Skills of a Crime Scene Investigator.