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Become a CSI
If you want to know how to become a crime scene investigator, or what a crime scene investigator does, this is the right place.

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A technician, as the name denotes, is one who works within the vast and diversified field of technology. Those aspiring to work in a DNA testing laboratory and wishing to take on the post as a laboratory technician may find the following information indeed useful as it highlights the roles, skills and competencies required for such a job. Entering the world of the DNA technician offers a plethora of choice; you could consider clinical DNA testing, DNA banking, research genomics, police departments and forensic laboratories.

Image credits: My Future / Flickr

The rapid and dynamic world we currently live in means new technologies are constantly being developed to make people’s lives more comfortable. Scientists have not stopped working and this evolving and kaleidoscopic field because technology plays such a momentous role in our lives; this incessant need for discovery and development means laboratory technicians can specialize and hone in on particular fields or areas of technology, seeking employment in specialized laboratories depending on their interests, qualifications, aspirations and ambitions.

The laboratory technician is an integral part of the team working in these scientific facilities. Depending on the laboratories throughput, processing rate, the type of tests or analysis, the result turnaround time and a myriad of other factors, the DNA laboratory technician’s workload may vary considerably. For example, some laboratories such easyDNA UK, homeDNAdirect, The Genetic Testing laboratory and several others offer express testing results which means that clients must have their DNA testing results in just two working days from receipt of samples. For Additional fees they may even offer clients an express new day testing service. This means that DNA analysts, scientists and technicians must work at a pace in order to deliver results in the promised time frames.

What is a laboratory technician?

Besides laboratory technicians, there are several others types of technicians including Emergency medical technician, Engineering technician, Pharmacy technician and veterinary technician. The term “laboratory technician” is in itself rather vague and actually is more of an umbrella term or general term that would refer to a range of posts in different laboratories. Even DNA testing laboratories are not all the same – for example, some laboratories might focus in forensic DNA testing or forensic toxicology whilst others may carry out genetic testing or simply direct-to-consumer DNA tests. The following are some further examples of posts that may require laboratory technicians:

  • Microbiology Clinical Laboratory Technician
  • IVF / assisted reproductive technology laboratory technician
  • Reproductive Endocrinology Laboratory Technician
  • Crime/DNA testing Technician

Some laboratory technicians are also employed by prisons to collect DNA samples (usually using oral swabs) from inmates and working on the analysis of samples collected at crime scenes. The DNA technician in such cases may even have access to government DNA databases in order to carry out comparisons of DNA profiles and helping to conclude the case.

The duties of the DNA laboratory technician

Different laboratories might have some requirements that differ from or are in additional to the below list. However, the duties below are those typically stipulated for such posts:

  • Overseeing and managing all day to day tasks and operations and ensuring the smooth running of the laboratory.
  • The technician will be directly involved in carrying out experiments and recording results from which conclusions and inferences can be made by themselves or senior lab analysts and scientists. The technician would directly be involved in the DNA extraction process, DNA cloning, and various tests in molecular biology such as the amplification of DNA using PCR polymerase chain reaction (PCR), DNA sequencing, STR analysis (Short Tandem Repeat testing) and others.
  • A technician would create templates and formats to present data and findings. He or she would also come up with or follow experimentation protocols and supervise those below them in the laboratory experiments (for example, undergraduate students)

Laboratory DNA technician requirements

Most laboratories will require a bachelor’s or master’s degree in science, chemistry, biology, medical technology or a related field– this is usually a minimum requirement. They may also request a further minimum number of years of experience in a DNA testing laboratory or crime/ forensic laboratory. This said, some laboratories, such as secondary school laboratories or even some university laboratories might simply require a diploma. In some posts, the DNA technician will only be responsible for collecting the samples and logging them into a system. They will not be involved in the actual analysis or handling of the samples beyond the sample collection. Again, whether a degree or a diploma is required will depend on where the call for applications is being issued from.

A number of CIA officers were pulled from the U.S. Embasy in Beijing as a precautionary measure taken in the wake of massive cybertheft of current and former federal employees’ personal data, officials said. Two major hacks into Office of Personnel Management were disclosed earlier this year, and this move can be seen as a direct consequence of the breach. Officials (privately) attribute the attacks to the Chinese government, but decided against publicly blaming them.

Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper Jr. testifies before the Senate Armed Services Committee on Sept. 29.
Image via washingtonpost

The documents were stolen in what senior U.S. officials brand as political espionage, intended to identify spies and people who would be receptive to bribes, susceptible to blackmail, or willing to be recruited as spies in order to provide useful information. And as OPM records included the background checks of State Department employees, all they had to do was compare them with the list of embassy personnel. Anyone not on the list could be a CIA officer, and exposed to immense risk. As such, CIA’s move was aimed at safeguarding officers whose affiliation might have been discovered after the hack, said officials on the condition of anonymity. The CIA officially declined to comment on the issue.

The disclosure comes as senior defense and intelligence officials on Tuesday tried — not always successfully — to explain to a committee of frustrated lawmakers their policy on deterring foreign governments, such as China, from carrying out cyber-intrusions.

Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper Jr., testifying before the Senate Armed Services Committee, sought to make a distinction between the OPM hacks and cybertheft of U.S. companies’ secrets to benefit another country’s industry. What happened in the OPM case, “as egregious as it was,” Clapper said, was not an attack: “Rather, it would be a form of theft or espionage.”

“We, too, practice cyberespionage and . . . we’re not bad at it,” he went on to say.

Seeking punishment on other countries for what their own intelligence services do as well wouldn’t be U.S’s best course of action, he believes.

“I think it’s a good idea to at least think about the old saw about how people who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw rocks.”

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), the committee’s chairman, argued against what he believed is not wise restraint, but rather a show of weakness.

“So it’s okay for them to steal our secrets that are most important because we live in a glass house? That is astounding.”

“I’m just saying that both nations engage in this,” Clapper concluded, referring to China and the United States.

Several lawmakers were not satisfied with the lack of a punishment for the OPM theft, despite Clapper’s explanation.

“This is a pretty significant issue that is going to impact millions of Americans,” said Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.). “But it seems to me they are not seeing a response right now from us, and therefore we’re going to continue to see bad behavior from the Chinese.”

At another point in the hearing, Deputy Defense Secretary Robert O. Work seemed to stray off-message when he asked what response he would recommend if the Chinese were to carry off another OPM-like cybertheft.

“Sanctions? Retaliation?” asked Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska).

“Could be any of those, Senator. Maybe all of the above,” Work responded.

But in the end, it’s unlikely the administration will impose sanctions or retaliate officially for the OPM intrusions for the exact reasons that Clapper outlined. During the Cold War, Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) noted, a foreign agent who was nabbed trying to steal U.S. secrets would be kicked out of the country if he or she had diplomatic cover or thrown in jail otherwise.

“[But in the OPM case] the U.S. government seems uncertain about what a proportioned response would look like,” he added.

The counterintelligence risks of the OPM breach are significant, Clapper said. He noted that the intelligence agencies do not know specifically whose records were taken. But the scale of the compromise — more than 22 million individuals’ records breached — “has very serious implications . . . from the standpoint of the intelligence community and the potential for identifying people” who may be undercover.

“Unfortunately,” he said, “this is a gift that’s going to keep on giving for years.”

People suffering from a severe mental disorder that commit crime and are incarcerated have different characteristics than those who are hospitalized rather than incarcerated after an offence.

The full study of the new study  by researchers at the Institut universitaire en santé mentale de Montréal (IUSMM) and the Institut Philippe-Pinel de Montréal (IPPM), affiliated with the University of Montreal, can be found here.

Image via memegenerator
Image via memegenerator

The study looked at persons suffering from severe mental disorders — such as schizophrenia — with a criminal record, and divided them into two groups: those that were incarcerated, and the others that were hospitalized in a forensic psychiatry unit and received medical care.

“We found a clear difference between people with a mental illness who are incarcerated for a crime and those declared not criminally responsible for a crime and then hospitalized at a psychiatric institution,” explained Dr. Alexandre Dumais, a researcher at the IPPM and the IUSMM and the study’s first author.

 

“Since the adoption of Bill C-30 in 1992, federal detention centres have had a significant decrease in the number of people with severe mental disorders, such as schizophrenia. Conversely, there has been an increase in the number of people declared not criminally responsible on account of mental disorder (NCRMD) and who find themselves in the psychiatric network,” added Dr. Dumais, who is also an assistant clinical professor in the University of Montreal’s Faculty of Medicine and a psychiatrist at the IPPM.

Conducted in collaboration with the Centre d’études sur les mesures de contrôle en santé mentale of the IUSMM, this research compared the characteristics of individuals who suffer from serious mental disorders and who were either incarcerated (I = 44) or declared NCRMD and hospitalized in a forensic psychiatry care unit (H = 59) after committing a crime. The researchers analyzed data from an extensive research program that explored the clinical and sociodemographic profiles of men who suffer from severe mental disorders. The researchers found differences between people who are incarcerated and those declared NCRMD and who are hospitalized.

  • Higher level of schooling among those declared NCRMD (equivalent of Secondary 5)
    25% for people who are incarcerated versus 54% for those declared NCRMD
  • Greater use of specialized mental health services among those declared NCRMD
    40% for people who are incarcerated versus 73% for those declared NCRMD
  • Greater history of suicide attempts among people who are incarcerated
    66% for people who are incarcerated versus 34% for those declared NCRMD
  • Greater history of criminal activity with or without violence among people who are incarcerated
    71-80% for people who are incarcerated versus 25-29% for those declared NCRMD
  • More concomitant drug or alcohol disorders and a higher level of psychopathy among incarcerated people

“This study confirms the work of my colleagues at the IPPM: incarcerated people with a severe mental disorder have particular characteristics, along with criminal behaviour and psychopathic traits,” stated Jean-François Pelletier, a researcher at the IUSMM and an assistant professor at the University of Montreal’s Faculty of Medicine.

“People who are declared NCRMD and hospitalized use mental health services more, and they are often under psychiatric care before they commit the offence,” explained Mr. Pelletier.

“The characteristics of incarcerated people put them on a path to criminal behaviour and prevent them from getting the psychiatric care they need,” stated Dr. Dumais. “People who commit an offence need to serve their time, but they also need care if they suffer from an illness. New shared care models between the legal and health care systems need to be implemented so that these patients can get better treatment and so that we can reduce their risk of violent and antisocial behaviour. Some countries have launched initiatives in this area, but these programs haven’t been formally tested with rigorous research methods. Further studies should look at these models to determine which are ones are effective.”

An increasing volume of attacks using file-less malware and other anti-forensic measures is leading a greater-than-ever skill gap in the cybersecurity bizz. These tehniques leave little to no trace on physical disks, and unfortunately the good guys aren’t keeping up: There’s a shortage of skilled digital forensics practitioners who are able to efficiently investigate these types of offensives.

Image via welnet-tech

“Attackers know how forensics investigators work and they are becoming increasingly more sophisticated at using methods that leave few traces behind—we are in an arms race where the key difference is training,” says Alissa Torres, founder of Sibertor Forensics and former member of the Mandiant Computer Incident Response Team (MCIRT).

Torres reports that in the last year, there has been a rise in file-less malware, programs that avoid installation on the target’s file system and operates only in it’s volatile memory.

“Five years ago, to see sophisticated anti-analysis and acquisition techniques in the wild was like seeing a unicorn but that is no longer the case,” she said. “As techniques for detecting trace artefacts on a compromised system have improved, the more sophisticated attackers have adapted quickly.”

The SANS Institute estimates that possibly one in four digital forensics and incident response (DFIR) professionals has the level of training to successfully analyze the new types of self-defense techniques that include more sophisticated rootkit and anti-memory analysis mechanisms.

“The memory forensics field exploded around 2005 when a lot of the parsing tools started to become available and its use in forensics has been growing ever since,” explained Torres. “An incredible advantage this analysis method has is speed—a skilled expert in memory forensics can discover insights a lot quicker and pick up on information that is missed in traditional disk imaging.”

Although the tools at our disposal have improved, Torres pointed out that  “owning a hammer and saw doesn’t make you a carpenter—a deeper understanding of the operating system internals to include memory management allows the examiner to access target data specific to the needs of the case at hand.”

 

A brand new forum named Cold Case Collective debuted a few days back, set up for those that would like to turn their hand at working in investigations, or those that already are but have that one cold case still bugging them.

Image via Idolbin

 

The forum gives you a place to share data, facts and theories with others, to put your brain to work on solving a case or get a fresh perspective on your work.

It’s a really powerful resource. People working on a missing person’s case are encouraged to post their findings in the MP section, by name or state, so that people may pitch in with information or theories. The Forensics section may help with linking two pieces of information, or matching evidence to the case.

If you are not sure what cold case to begin working on, you may like to start working on either a john or jane doe or a case that has gone cold in your own home town. Go to NAMUS.gov and start looking around or ask Google for “cold cases” in your area and find something that piques your interest.

Or just visit the General Discussions board and get a feel of the community before you dip into the forum.

The more people join, the more information will be available for sharing, more eyes be put to good use and theories will become wilder, and probably more true. So why not become a consulting investigator?

You can visit the forum at coldcasecollective.

 

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louisiana forensic science

Forensic Science

Forensic science combines science and investigation in order to aid and support  the prosecution or defense in criminal and civil investigations. While the profession has been widely romanticized by various TV shows, make no mistake – this job is most likely different that you expect.  In contrast with popular perception, this is a highly scientific role, which often involves detailed, painstaking work. Field duties are limited to a few areas of expertise, and most often than not a forensic scientist will spend his time in the lab.

If you made it this far, though, congratulations! You’re taking the first steps in joining a very rewarding profession and itsGOV is here to guide you through what you need to know and what you need to do to join a forensic science program in Louisiana.

Depending on the type of forensic science practiced, different degrees and educational backgrounds may help a candidate get a job and excel in this field. Regarding formal education, requirements vary across jobs, but you should definitely have a solid background in mathematics, biology and chemistry.

The National Institute of Justice, a division of the U.S. Department of Justice, offers guidelines for model undergraduate and graduate forensic science degree programs. According to the American Academy of Forensic Science, strong programs should offer a curriculum that concentrates on scientific writing, laboratory skills, public speaking, and computer software application training.

The Louisiana State Police Crime Laboratory, which is part of the Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections, was created in 1937 to provide forensic services to the State of Louisiana. The Crime Laboratory is responsible for assisting local, state and federal law enforcement agencies in the investigation of criminal activity through scientific analyses of physical evidence.

Forensic Science Requirements in Louisiana

As the largest laboratory of its kind in the state—the lab receives more than 18,000 requests for analyses each year—the Crime Laboratory is used by both law enforcement and judicial agencies, from New Orleans to Baton Rouge and Shreveport.

The Crime Laboratory is accredited by the American Society of Crime Lab Directors/Laboratory Accreditation Board in the following forensic science disciplines:

  • Controlled substances
  • Trace evidence, including fire debris, impression evidence, and general physical analysis
  • Biology
  • Latent prints
  • Toxicology
  • Firearms
  • Toolmarks
  • Crime scene

The Crime Laboratory is organized into distinct units, including:

  • DNA Unit
  • Drug Analysis Unit
  • Evidence Receiving Unit
  • Photo Lab
  • Physical Evidence Unit
  • Toxicology Unit

Forensic Science Training in Louisiana

Prospective students who are seeking a good option for schooling in Louisiana will find that the forensic science field could lead to an exciting career. Today, there are more forensic science specialists working in the state than there were a couple of years ago, and there are several quality forensic science colleges in Louisiana that offer the courses and the training that people interested in the field will need to prepare for a career in the field of forensics. As well, students choosing to attending one of the forensics colleges in Louisiana could be eligible for student affiliate membership in the American Academy of Forensic Sciences(AAFS), which provides a plethora of resources and information germane to the forensic science field.

Forensic Science Salary in Louisiana

According to 2012 information from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 110 forensic science technicians were employed in the state, and they earned mean annual wages of $45,520. The job opportunities for forensic science technicians available in Louisiana are expected to grow by 17 percent from 2010 to 2020, according to Career One Stop, which is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor. This job growth could provide opportunities to recent graduates of forensics colleges in Louisiana or even online programs. Many opportunities could be available in Louisiana’s largest cities, including Baton Rouge and New Orleans. Students wishing to pursue job opportunities outside of Louisiana will be reassured to know that job growth nationwide is expected to increase by 19 percent from 2010 to 2020 for forensic science technicians.

Forensic Science Schools and Colleges in Louisiana

Bachelor’s Degree Programs in Louisiana

University Loyola University, Forensic Chemistry B.S.
Duration 24 months
Type Full time, Part time
Tuition and fees $24,635 per year
Program link Program link

The Bachelors of Science in Forensic Chemistry program at Loyola University seeks to provide students with an excellent education in chemistry with specialization in forensic science.

In 1999, our department began offering a degree track in forensic chemistry. Our program provides students with a Bachelor of Science degree in chemistry, focusing on forensic analytical techniques used in the field and in the laboratory. Graduates leave the program with both specialized chemical knowledge and substantial laboratory experience.

The degree track is designed to prepare students to step into a job in a forensic laboratory or to pursue an advanced degree in forensic chemistry. Recent graduates have worked in professional laboratories including the New Orleans Police Department Crime Lab and Quest Diagnostics, and have been accepted into graduate programs at universities including George Washington University and the University of New Haven. The core modules are:

  • General Chemistry I Lecture
  • Organic Chemistry I Lecture
  • Intro to Forensic Methods
  • Integrated Chemistry Lab
  • Techniques in Biochemistry
  • Forensic Instrumental Analysis
  • Forensics Seminar

Of the 31 CHFS graduates who have provided post-graduation information, 42% continue on to graduate school, usually in either forensic science or chemistry.  An additional 16% entered medical school after graduating from Loyola. The remaining graduates progress directly into employment in a laboratory setting; 50% of these students are currently working in forensic laboratories.

The curriculum includes the specialized science coursework required for forensic laboratory analysis, with coursework in chemistry, biology, physics, and statistics. Students may select from three different concentration options: Instrumental Analysis, Biochemistry and Genetics, or Human Mind and Behavior.

Incoming students should plan for a rigorous curriculum by reviewing the required degree plan. Students (especially transfer students) are urged to consult with the Program Director to discuss their area of interest and the appropriate curriculum.

Master’s Degree Programs in Louisiana

There are currently no master’s programs in Louisiana.

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forensic science technician guide
A forensic technician at work in the field. Image: BLS.GOV

ITSGOV.com has published a lot about forensic science technicians, and today, we’re going to present a short career guide – just a little more about the required skills and tasks, knowledge and abilities required, etc.

Standard occupational description

Main task: collect, identify, classify, and analyze physical evidence related to criminal investigations. A CSI technician will also be required to conduct ballistic tests on weapons and also lab tests on physical evidence: fiber, hair DNA, etc. He also may be asked to testify as a specialist; this is actually quite likely.

It’s important to note that there are several other fields of work you can get a job in if you have forensic qualifications, but don’t want to work as one: Life and Physical Sciences, Lab and Research Services, Environmental Services, Public Safety Compliance.

In the Commonwealth, there are actually two roles forensic technicians can be assigned to: Forensic Science Specialist I and Forensic Science Specialist II (see differences here).

Required skills

The tasks and standards vary from place to place, and typically, you are not required to have all these qualifications, but most of them are needed, while all of them is definitely a bonus:

  • good reading skills and ability to understand reports and documents; this is definitely important for any such job, though most of the time it’s not even mentioned.
  • using a scientific approach to solve problems; you are a forensic science technician – a scientist, not a cop. Logic is your friend and best ally; always use it.
  • giving full attention to crime scenes, as well as people statements, the ability to ask the right questions, etc; you’ll be sometimes working with people, and while not all may have good people skills, experience teaches all.
  • adapting to new evidence and other peoples’ actions; it’s a job full of unpredictable.
  • considering the relative costs and benefits before acting; this is the real world, not CSI Miami. You sometimes won’t be able to do all the tests you want, and won’t have the time and equipment you see on TV. Be sure to estimate the things that come with your choices.
  • communicating effectively both in speech and in writing; you’re part of a team, you can have the best results in the world, but if you don’t communicate them, that’s worthless. Also, reports, reports, reports.
  • having decent math skills; always a good skill to have, will help in your endeavours.
  • identifying complex problems and reviewing related information to develop and evaluate options and implement solutions.

Required knowledge

forensic science technician guide
Image: College Finder

Ok, so that’s what you have to be able to do; that may be a little misleading, that may be a little discouraging and may paint the wrong picture. What do you need to know?

  • chemistry; you’re a forensic science technician – know your chemistry! The chemical composition, structure, and properties of substances and of the chemical processes and transformations that they undergo, including their uses and application, techniques, etc. Can’t really do it without knowing chemistry.
  • language; you absolutely need good language skill, and this is almost never really mentioned. As I already said, you’ll be writing reports all the time. You’ll be writing statements, you’ll be interviewing people, you’ll be testifying, etc – you can’t do this without good knowledge of the language.
  • knowledge of laws, legal codes, court procedure, etc; many offices offer a course in this or some method to teach you, so even if you don’t know this at first, you will have to learn it – fast.
  • relevant equipment, procedures, strategies, institutions, etc; you’ll be using equipment, you’ll be talking to people, you’ll be doing stuff. You have to know who’s the “go to guy” for something, how to use your equipment, etc. You’ll learn this in time.
  • basic math; statistics, algebra, maybe even something more advanced. Don’t be discouraged, this is not a main issue, but very usefull overall.
  • computer hardward and software; this is a modern time we’re living it – computer forensics are often the way to go. You’ll be working with computers a LOT. Be it at your own or recovering data from others, this is absolutely required.

Forensic Technician Salary

The average salary of a forensic technician is $51,570 per year, which adds up to $24.79 per hour – these data were calculated for 2010, but haven’t changed much since then. Basically, salaries can vary significantly, but rarely go below $20.000/year and over $100.000. The salary varies with experience and depends on your particular work flow, but generally lies in those areas.

In order to work in this field, you’re required to have at least a bachelor degree (some exceptions may occur, but extremely rare). Other than that, requirements vary greatly, but you’re not typically required to have a degree in crime scene investigation – actually few colleges give that. Anything from chemistry to environmental sciences could work – again, it greatly depends on the employer, and if you’re really interested in working in this field, check with your local agency.

The employment in the field is expected to grow significantly, with about 20 percent in the next 10 years.

So, how about the tasks

So, you know all you need, you’ve got all the skills, let’s get down to business. What does a forensic scientist do?

  • analyze DNA and other body samples (fluids, etc);
  •  match them with other ones (existing or from databases);
  • analyze gunshot residue, bullet trajectories, ballistic tests, etc;
  • collect evidence from crime scene, ensuring its integrity and value;
  • collect impressions of dust from surfaces in order to obtain and identify fingerprints;
  • determine the type of bullets/weapon used;
  • objects such as tools with impression marks in order to see if a certain object was in a certain place/was used for a certain thing;
  • interview people in specific contexts (not police work);
  • testify in trials
  • analyze physical evidence such as hair, fiber, wood or soil residues in order to obtain information about its source and composition.

So that’s pretty much it; still interested? Think you have what it takes to become a forensic science technician? Well… you’ve made a good choice! Be sure and check these additional resources, I’m sure you’ll find them useful.

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penn 

Forensic science

Forensic science combines science and investigation in order to aid and support  the prosecution or defense in criminal and civil investigations. While the profession has been widely romanticized by various TV shows, make no mistake – this job is most likely different that you expect.  In contrast with popular perception, this is a highly scientific role, which often involves detailed, painstaking work. Field duties are limited to a few areas of expertise, and most often than not a forensic scientist will spend his time in the lab.

If you made it this far, though, congratulations! You’re taking the first steps in joining a very rewarding profession and itsGOV is here to guide you through what you need to know and what you need to do to join a forensic science program in Pennsylvania.

Depending on the type of forensic science practiced, different degrees and educational backgrounds may help a candidate get a job and excel in this field. Regarding formal education, requirements vary across jobs, but you should definitely have a solid background in mathematics, biology and chemistry.

The National Institute of Justice, a division of the U.S. Department of Justice, offers guidelines for model undergraduate and graduate forensic science degree programs. According to the American Academy of Forensic Science, strong programs should offer a curriculum that concentrates on scientific writing, laboratory skills, public speaking, and computer software application training.

Forensic science requirements

Forensic science is organized into a number of disciplines, all of which require specific expertise in one or more areas of the natural sciences. As scientific study becomes more sophisticated and developed, the role of the forensic scientist continues to take on a more significant role in crime scene investigation. And because of the complexity of forensic science and the many areas of study within this field, the need to establish and maintain professional standards has never been greater.

The American Board of Criminalistics (ABC), which was formed to represent the forensic scientist, now offers certification, proficiency testing, and serves as a voice for current issues and topics. The ABC was the first certification body accredited by the Forensic Specialty Accreditation Board. Individuals may achieve professional certification in comprehensive criminalistics, as well as in specialty areas and disciplines, including: molecular biology, drug chemistry, fire debris analysi and trace evidence.

Certification through the ABC can be achieved at one of three levels:

- Diplomate: To achieve diplomate status, individuals must possess a bachelor’s degree in a natural science or an appropriately related field and at least two years of full-time experience

- Fellow: To achieve fellow status, individuals must meet all the requirements for a diplomate and successfully complete the Comprehensive Criminalistics Examination.

- Affiliate: The affiliate status is not a certified status; instead, individuals are certification eligible upon filing for an ABC Request for Promotion from Affiliate to diplomate and having it approved by the Credentials Committee.

 

Forensic science training

Forensic science, in its simplest form, is science focused on the justice system. Therefore, any science used within the context of the law can be said to be forensic science. There is a great number of forensic science specializations, each one with its own characteristics, including:

Forensic science jobs are most often focused on the forensic laboratory, whereas the professionals at the scene of the crime generally fall under the field of crime scene investigation (CSI). Forensic scientists are professionals who gain valuable information regarding crime scene investigations through scientific analysis and observation.

Forensic science salary in Pennsylvania

The salaries for specific forensic scientist positions vary in this state, as well in most of the institutions in the American system. The average position in Philadelphia paid $39,520 a year, as a starting salary.  Forensic scientist trainees for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania made a starting wage of $50,533 to $63,009 in 2013. According to Pennsylvania’s Department of Labor & Industry, six jobs for forensic science technicians were advertised in the state on October 7, 2013.  Four were in Montgomery County, while two were in Philadelphia County.

A number of forensic science technicians work as crime scene investigators (CSIs). As part of their job, they perform their work in the field—documenting the crime scene and collecting evidence to be analyzed further in the lab. While some CSIs are civilians, others are enlisted personnel.  In addition, depending on the size of the department, some CSIs are crime scene analysts—processing the whole site—while others have specific functions such as: latent fingerprint analysis, blood pattern analysis or analyzing impressions from tires or shoes.

As with most forensic science positions, the salaries of CSIs can vary widely. The professional’s level of education and experience has a significant contribution to determining their pay range. The average Pennsylvania crime scene investigator salary from the year preceding October 2013 as being $53,000.

Forensic science schools in Pennsylvania

Bachelor’s Programs in Pennsylvania

University Anna Maria College, Paxton, Pennsylvania, Criminal Justice B.S.
Duration 4 years
Type Full time, Part time
Tuition and fees $28,752 per year
Program link Program link

Anna Maria College, Paxton, Pennsylvania, Criminal Justice B.S. Program Information

The Criminal Justice major provides students with an interdisciplinary perspective that balances both theoretical knowledge and practical application. The major prepares students for the criminal justice/human service professions and provides a solid foundation for graduate and continuing studies. Faculty grounded in the balance of theory and practice deliver a curriculum intended to develop a sense of global awareness and a commitment to social justice and responsibility while promoting respect for the dignity of all persons involved in the criminal justice system.

The integration of knowledge and practice culminates with the internship or service learning component (capstone seminar). Through the internship, students apply learning outside the classroom, helping them to build professional competence and confidence. Interns and program alumnae have found placements and employment in areas including include federal, state and local law enforcement agencies, federal and local probation, juvenile and criminal court, private security, victim/witness assistance, correctional agencies, youth programs, and investigative agencies. The core modules are:

– Crime Scene Forensics

– Response to Terrorism

– Evolving Concepts of Justice

– History of Crime

– Drugs and Society

– Cybercrime

– Victimology

– Criminal Procedure

– Information Security

– Social Issues in CJ

– Race and Crime

– Criminal Profiling

– White Collar Crime

– Organized Crime

– Federal Responses to Crime

– Physical Security

– Disaster Victims

– Forensic Photography

– Forensic Psychology

– Juvenile Justice

– Comparative CJ Systems

– Gender, Crime and Justice

– Human Diversity

– Forensic Anthropology and Bioarchaeology

Other useful information: Students take nine core criminal justice and cognate courses in the first and second years. In the third and fourth years, students, in consultation with their academic advisor, develop a plan of study which furthers the student’s intellectual interests and professional goals through the choice of six elective courses. A minimum of four upper division electives must be taken in criminal justice. The remaining two may be from criminal justice or related fields such as sociology, anthropology, psychology, social work, legal studies, public policy, and political science. The Capstone Seminar in the Senior year allows for application of knowledge to the professional setting.

University University of Pittsburgh at Bradford, Pennsylvania, Criminal Justice B.S.
Duration 4 years
Type Full time, Part time
Tuition and fees $6,928 in-state, $15,057 out-of-state per year
Program link Program link

University of Pittsburgh at Bradford, Pennsylvania, Criminal Justice B.S. Program Information

The program is designed to give you a broadly based understanding of the diverse nature of crime and justice and its relationship with society, with an emphasis on the components of policing, courts and corrections. The program will provide you with more than 30 specialized criminal justices courses to select from, including Terrorism in a Post 9/11 World; Substance Abuse and Treatment; Islam and Social Justice; Drugs, Crime and Social Policy; Law Enforcement Operations; and Organized Crime in America.

You will be taught by professors who not only have PhDs, but also have more than 40 years of combined professional experience in criminal investigations, adult probation, corrections, substance abuse counseling and juvenile delinquency. You’ll learn to work as a team, gaining hands-on experience using some of the most technologically advanced criminal forensic equipment in the country with our Crime Scene Investigation House and Lab. You’ll take part in an internship to gain real-world experience, be provided with research opportunities to expand your leadership skills, and complete a capstone course project to bring it all together. The core modules are:

– Law Enforcement Operations

– Introduction to Forensic Science

– White Collar Crimes

– Criminal Evidence and Investigation

– Criminal Forensics

– Contemporary Issues in Law Enforcement

– American Corrections

– Substance Abuse and Treatment in the Community

– Ethics in Criminal Justice

– Violence and Crime

– Juvenile Justice Systems

– International and Goal Crime

Other useful information: Students must take six additional courses (18 credits), including at least two from each of the three areas of study in criminal justice. At least three of the courses must be at the 1300/1400 level. Members of a university community, both faculty and students, bear a serious responsibility to uphold personal and professional integrity and to maintain complete honesty in all academic work. Violations of the code of academic integrity are not tolerated. Students who cheat or plagiarize or who otherwise take improper advantage of the work of others, face harsh penalties, including permanent dismissal. The academic integrity guidelines set forth student and faculty obligations, and the means of enforcing regulations and addressing grievances.

 

University Kutztown University of Pennsylvania, Criminal Justice B.S.
Duration 4 years
Type Full time, Part time
Tuition and fees $6,820 in-state, $17, 050 out-of-state per year
Program link Program link

Kutztown University of Pennsylvania, Criminal Justice B.S. Program Information

Although the Kutztown Criminal Justice Program dates back into the 1960s, the curriculum has been modified over the years in response to the changing needs of students and employers. Degree requirements include: 60 semester hours of General Education (taken by all students), 24 semester hour core of criminal justice courses and 36 semester hours of Criminal Justice electives.
Criminal Justice students have the option of completing an American Bar Association approved Paralegal Studies Program along with their B.S. in Criminal Justice through a cooperative program with Lehigh Carbon Community College. All paralegal classes are offered on the KU campus. The core modules are:

– Introduction to Criminal Justice
– Introduction to Policing
– Criminal Law
– Criminal Procedure
– Criminology
– Management of Offenders
– Research Methods in Criminal Justice
– Senior Seminar

– Introduction to Security Management
– Federal Law Enforcement
– Comparative Criminal Justice Systems
– Comparative Police Systems
– Development of Criminal Justice System
– Juvenile Delinquency
– Juvenile Justice
– Race, Crime and Criminal Justice
– Gender, Crime and Criminal Justice
– Substance Abuse and Crime
– Community Corrections
– Career Criminals and Criminal Carreers
– Ethics in Criminal Justice
– Crime and Delinquency Prevention
– Investigation & Intelligence
– Homeland Security
– Homeland Defense
– Homeland Security & Intelligence
– Evidence
– Contemporary Legal Issues
– Selected Topics
– Independent Study
– Fieldwork

Other useful information: A student wishing to participate in the field work placement must have completed at least sixty college credit hours. In addition, the student must have completed at least eighteen credits in the criminal justice curriculum.

Students who wish to obtain a field work placement must enroll in CRJ 390 and pay for six credits. Field work students must serve five weeks (a total of 200 hours) of work at their placement. The normal workload is eight hours; however, not all placements are designed around a standard eight-hour day. Some placements may require “off hours” and weekend work. If there are problems or questions regarding hours, they can be discussed and revised with your faculty internship supervisor.

Kutztown students have received field work placements with a wide range of local, state and federal agencies. Law enforcement placements have included the state police, private detectives and sheriff’s departments, as well as the Federal Bureau of Investigation and U. S. Marshals. Students interested in pursuing careers in the courts have worked with prosecutors, defense attorneys and court administrators. Many students are placed in adult and juvenile probation agencies or in adult prisons and juvenile reformatories. One student was placed in Rwanda with the war crimes court.

University Point Park University, Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, Forensic Psychology B.A. 
Duration 4 years
Type Full time, Part time
Tuition and fees $25,980 per year
Program link Program link

Point Park University, Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, Forensic Psychology B.A. Program Information

The psychology major offers rigorous study of human science psychology that includes existential, cross-cultural, depth psychology and post-structuralist theories. At Point Park University, we encourage critical and holistic thinking in order to respectfully address the diverse and unique lived experiences of children and adults, and foster activist perspectives that enhance the well-being of persons and their communities. Courses are designed to prepare students for continued study at the graduate level as clinicians and scholars. Students also have the opportunity to choose concentrations of study such as counseling or child development. The psychology majors have opportunities to work with faculty on original research and publish their work in professional journals. They also participate in internships and practicums at local agencies, many of which are within walking distance of campus. The core modules, regardless the concentration, are:

– Forensic Evidence

– Ethics in Forensic Science

– Psychological Foundations

– Critical Thinking in Psychology and Behavioral Sciences

– The story of Psychology in Perspective

– Theories of Personality

– Abnormal Psychology

– Industrial Psychology

– Social Psychology

– Perception

– Psychology of Emotion

– Hypnosis

– Cross-cultural Psychology

– Psychology of Sexual Behavior

Other useful information:  At Point Park, Pittsburgh’s only Downtown university, the students will engage in a more active, more real, more professional education.  Whether they’re looking to pursue a degree in one of our 82 undergraduate programs, 17 master’s programs or new doctoral program, they’ll have professors who teach from their own real-world experience.

They’ll have access to successful, working professionals within your field.  You’ll have internship and job opportunities with leading companies and organizations.  And they’ll have the limitless cultural and entertainment opportunities that only a world-class city can offer.

The Downtown Pittsburgh neighborhood offers pristine parks, riverfront trails and hundreds of shops and restaurants. It’s home to Fortune 500 companies, government agencies and nonprofit organizations.  It’s a place where more than 140,000 people come to work each day and where more than 7,000 people (including 1,000 Point Park students) live. It’s a dynamic city center that makes a dynamic college experience possible.

University Seton Hill University, Greensburg, Pennsylvania, Forensic Science B.S.
Duration 4 years
Type Full time, Part time
Tuition and fees $28,752 per year
Program link Program link

Seton Hill University, Greensburg, Pennsylvania, Forensic Science B.S. Program Information

Seton Hill’s Forensic Science Program combines rigorous study in biology, chemistry, math, physics and criminal justice with hands-on crime scene analysis and field experience. As a result, our graduates are uniquely suited to begin a career right after graduation, or to go on to graduate school in forensic science, law, or allied health and medicine.

As a student of the Forensic Science Program, you will: gain understanding of the scientific methods used to gather and analyze evidence from crime scenes; learn written communication and quantitative reasoning skills for the interpretation of laboratory data; analyze and interpret forensic science literature; develop an understanding and application of the crucial role that honesty and integrity play in data collection, analysis and documentation in forensic investigations; become familiar with the specialties within the field of forensic science; acquire a fundamental understanding of the criminal justice system; understand the fundamental sociological principles related to persons involved in a criminal activity. The core moduels are:

– Fundamentals of Criminalistics

– Quantitative Analysis Laboratory

– Ogranic Chemistry

– Criminalistics plus Laboratory

– Introduction to Criminal Justice

– Law Enforcement and the Community

– Sociology of Deviance

Other useful information: Seton Hill graduates who choose a career in forensic science will benefit from a strong current and projected need for qualified forensic scientists in crime laboratories (federal, state and local), state police laboratories, coroner’s offices and private forensic laboratories. At Seton Hill, the staff have a full-sized ranch-style house on campus that is dedicated to the creation of “crime” – and its solution. As a forensic science students, you will regularly use the knowledge you are gaining in the classroom and the laboratory to examine and analyze mock crime scenes constructed by your professors, and you will also have the chance to set up mock crime scenes of your own. Seton Hill’s forensic science courses are designed and taught by award-winning faculty with academic and professional experience in the justice system. They are experts in their fields, and they have dedicated their careers to preparing you for yours.

 

Masters Programs in Pennsylvania

University Program in Forensic Science Cedar Crest College, Pennsylvania 
Duration 24 months
Type Full time, Part time
Tuition and fees $27,300 per year
Program link Program link

Program in Forensic Science Cedar Crest College, Pennsylvania Program Information

Studying forensic science at Cedar Crest will prepare the students for a wide variety of career paths, such as crime scene investigation, drug chemistry, forensic DNA analysis, toxicology and trace evidence examination.

Recent Cedar Crest graduates have found employment in both public and private sector laboratories, including the the New York City Police Department, Pennsylvania State Police, New Jersey State Police, and the United States Army Criminal Investigation Laboratory.Other graduates have pursued careers in industries such as pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, and medical research.

Since 2003 , 51% of the graduates of the graduate program have completed or are currently attending a master’s or doctoral level program Graduates have enrolled at graduate science programs at such institutions as Dartmouth University, The University of Arizona, The University of Michigan, and the University of Southern California.  In addition, several graduates have stayed at Cedar Crest to earn their Master of Science degree in forensic science. The core modules are:

– Crime Scene Pattern Analysis

– Instrumental Analysis

– Trace Evidence Microscopy

– Forensic Molecular Biology

– Professional Issues in Forensic Science

– Analytical Spectroscopy

– Forensic Chemistry

– Advanced Crime Scene Reconstruction

Other useful information: The forensic science program has earned the highest accreditation possible for undergraduate and graduate studies: Both programs are fully accredited by the Forensic Science Education Programs Accreditation Commission (FEPAC) of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences. The graduate program is one of the oldest accredited forensic science programs in the nation. The faculty members have more than 50 years of professional forensic science experience, and they routinely publish in peer-reviewed publications and present original research at forensic science conferences. Also, our program director, Lawrence Quarino, Ph.D., is a former chair of FEPAC.

The educational programs will take the students from the crime scene to the courtroom. Here, the students will receive instruction in subjects as diverse as DNA analysis, toxicology, trace evidence examination, and how to testify as an expert witness. This generalist approach will prepare you to compete for a wide array of careers. Students present at major forensic science conferences, serve in a leadership capacity in the Forensic Science Student Organization (FSSO), and host the College’s annual forensic science symposium, which takes place every spring.

 

University Pennsylvania State University, Eberly College of Sience, Department of Forensic Science 
Duration 24 months
Type Full time, Part time
Tuition and fees $19,882 in-state; $33,386 out-of-state per year
Program link Program link

Pennsylvania State University, Eberly College of Sience, Department of Forensic Science Program Information

The master’s program in Forensic Science is an exciting and innovative curriculum that offers students advanced, hands-on training in crime scene investigation techniques and crime laboratory methodologies.  State-of-the-art crime scene training facilities and crime laboratories are used to train students in the practices of modern forensics.  Students will conduct research relevant to the field of forensic science working under the guidance of the program’s faculty.

The Pennsylvania State master of professional studies in Forensic Science is rooted in scientific methodology and concepts. The students may choose an area of emphasis for their degree: biology, chemistry, or criminalistics. These rigorous programs incorporate a comprehensive knowledge of criminalistics and an abundance of hands-on training in our state-of-the-art facilities and labs. The core modules are:

- Courtroom Proceedings and Testimony

– Crime Scene Investigation

– Non-Biology Criminalistics (Trace Evidence, Microscopy, Materials Analysis, Pattern Evidence)

– Biology Criminalistics (Forensic Biology)

– Crime Scene Investigation Laboratory

– Forensic Science Seminar

– Drug Chemistry and Toxicology

– Forensic Seminar Series

– Ethics in Forensic Science

– Criminalistics III (Adv Scene, Laboratory & Problem Solving Concepts: Prep for the Forensic Science Aptitude Test, the FSAT)

– Research Projects in Forensic Science

Other useful information: The Professional Science Master’s (PSM) is an innovative, new graduate degree designed to allow students to pursue advanced training in science or mathematics, while simultaneously developing workplace skills highly valued by employers. PSM programs consist of two years of academic training in an emerging or interdisciplinary area, along with a professional component that may include internships and “cross-training” in workplace skills, such as business, communications, and regulatory affairs. All have been developed in concert with employers and are designed to dovetail into present and future professional career opportunities.

 

University Drexel University of Pennsylvania, School of Biomedical Sciences and Professional Studies, Department of Forensic Science, Forensic Science M.S. 
Duration 24 months
Type Full time, Part time
Tuition and fees $24,882 per year
Program link Program link

Drexel University of Pennsylvania, Department of Forensic Science, Forensic Science M.S. Program Information

The School of Biomedical Sciences and Professional Studies offers the Master of Science in Forensic Science. The MS in Forensic Science is designed to provide students with a solid foundation within the forensic sciences, while at the same time encouraging growth and leadership in new and emerging applications within the field. The program offers students the opportunity to concentrate within one of three major areas of forensic science: criminalistics; molecular biology; or clinical forensic medicine.

In the past few years film and television has introduced our entire society to the once closed world of forensic science. One of the elements that the entertainment industry has correctly identified as shedding light into the field is that a multidisciplinary approach is necessary to allow our criminal justice system to run properly.

The Master of Science in Forensic Sciences program provides an introduction to both the scientific and legal aspects of the field, which will then be followed by more in-depth study of specific forensic science fields. The program progresses to allow students the study of one of three current areas of concentration: molecular biology, criminalistics, or clinical forensic medicine. Opportunities for overlapping study within these disciplines are also available. Students will be exposed to both the intricacies of problem solving as well as to the real-world application of the related disciplines within the field of forensic science. A collaborative network of municipal agencies, private enterprise and allied professional programs within the University has been built to prepare professionals who can confront the forensic challenges of the new millennium. The core modules are:

– Biological Aspects of the Forensic Science

– Human Function

– Structure of the Human Body

– Principles of Forensic Pathology

– Forensic Sciences Summer Practicum

– Forensic Anthropology and Topics in the Human Identification

– Drug Chemistry

– Instrumental Analysis

– Criminal Law and the Court

– Techniques of Crime Scene Investigation

– Latent Fingerprint Analysis

– Basic Techniques of the Analysis of Biomolecules

– Bloodstain Pattern Analysis

– Forensic Research

– Introduction to Criminal Law and Trial Process

– Genetics for the Forensic Scientist

– Principles of Immunology

Other useful information:The program is not limited to only those students with undergraduate degrees in criminal justice and topic related fields. The program is designed to attract students at a multidisciplinary level. Students with coursework in the natural sciences, pre-medicine, engineering, computer science, psychology and the social sciences are only a few of the disciplines which will find this program beneficial.

The Master of Science in Forensic Science program is designed to allow students exposure to both the intricacies of problem solving and the real-world application of forensic science. The curriculum provides students with a solid foundation within the forensic sciences while encouraging growth and leadership in new and emerging applications within the field.

University Drexel University of Pennsylvania, School of Biomedical Sciences and Professional Studies, Department of Forensic Science, Criminalistic Science, M.S. 
Duration 24 months
Type Full time, Part time
Tuition and fees $24,882 per year
Program link Program link

Drexel University of Pennsylvania, School of Biomedical Sciences and Professional Studies, Department of Forensic Science, Criminalistic Science, M.S. Program Information

The School of Biomedical Sciences and Professional Studies offers the Master of Science in Forensic Science. The MS in Forensic Science is designed to provide students with a solid foundation within the forensic sciences, while at the same time encouraging growth and leadership in new and emerging applications within the field. The program offers students the opportunity to concentrate within one of three major areas of forensic science: criminalistics; molecular biology; or clinical forensic medicine.

In the past few years film and television has introduced our entire society to the once closed world of forensic science. One of the elements that the entertainment industry has correctly identified as shedding light into the field is that a multidisciplinary approach is necessary to allow our criminal justice system to run properly.

The Master of Science in Forensic Sciences program provides an introduction to both the scientific and legal aspects of the field, which will then be followed by more in-depth study of specific forensic science fields. The program progresses to allow students the study of one of three current areas of concentration: molecular biology, criminalistics, or clinical forensic medicine. Opportunities for overlapping study within these disciplines are also available. Students will be exposed to both the intricacies of problem solving as well as to the real-world application of the related disciplines within the field of forensic science. A collaborative network of municipal agencies, private enterprise and allied professional programs within the University has been built to prepare professionals who can confront the forensic challenges of the new millennium. The core modules are:

– Firearms and Toolmark Analysis

-Techniques of Interview and Interrogation

– Vehicle Accident Reconstruction and Analysis

– Footwear and the Firetrack Analysis

– Bloodstain Pattern Analysis

– Ethics for the Forensic Scientist

– Genetics for the Forensic Scientist

– Forensic Photography

– Principes of Immunology

– Human Osteology and Calcified Tissue Biology

– Introduction to Forensic Radiology

– Forensic DNA Analysis

– Criminal Investigative Analysis

– Cyber Crime

Other useful information: The School of Biomedical Sciences and Professional Studies offers the Master of Science in Criminalistic Science. The Master of Science in Criminalistic Science is designed to introduce students to the basic principles of Criminalistic Science while also providing opportunities to pursue either more traditional and/or more innovative concentrations of study.

Criminalistics is defined as the scientific study and analysis of crime scenes and the evidence within those scenes to solve a crime and apprehend the perpetrator of the crime. The disciplines within criminalistics are science based, with most using multiple combinations of the natural sciences to conduct examinations and analysis of evidence and crime scenes.

In addition to required courses in criminal law, trial process and the use of evidence, the Master of Science in Criminalistic Science program offers courses in fingerprint science, forensic engineering, motor vehicle crash reconstruction, firearms and tool mark analysis, fire and explosion analysis, footwear and tire track analysis, bloodstain pattern analysis, trace materials and forensic geology and botany, and nuclear, biological, chemical terrorism/mass disaster management.

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Private investigators often undervalue the role of forensic science in their investigations, choosing to rely more heavily on interviews and surveillance.

ItsGov.com managed to talk with a highly respected PI in London to find out the ways forensic science can help with investigations. Christine Alexander from a prominent London private investigation company shared some examples with us and told us that:

“The integration of forensic science into the area of PI, could bring about a more efficient industry”.

Christine made it clear that “Physical evidence should not be underestimated. It can make all the difference in a their-word-against-mine cases, providing the solid facts needed to support the investigation”.

Here are just a few examples from Christine of the many ways in which forensic science can be applied to private investigations:

forensicscience
Collecting finger prints is a valuable forensic science technique that is often used in private investigation matters, as well. Photo: Flickr

Friction ridge prints- Finger prints, palm prints, and foot prints, are often analyzed to link an individual to the scene of a crime. The same forensic evidence can be useful in private cases, such as employee thefts or internal security matters. The private investigator will have to work with someone who understands latent print development, who can successfully collect and analyze the prints. The investigator can then gather the prints of the suspected individual, and a direct match can instantly solve the case.

Broken fingernail- A broken fingernail found at the scene of an investigation provides evidence of a similar calibre to a friction ridge print. The private investigator will, in this case, need to work with firearms and tool mark examiner, to match the stria, or lines, to that of the suspect.

DNA evidence- If the private investigator deems it fit there are is a wide variety of biological evidence that can be analyzed to help with a case, such as blood, saliva, semen and other bodily fluids, hair, and tissue. This could provide serious and defining evidence in a paternity case for example, or when trying to prove an extramarital affair. There are a wide number of experts that the investigator must call on to analyze biological evidence, and this depends on the specifics of the case. Forensic experts include molecular biologists, serologist, hair examiner and toxicologist.

Firearm or tool examiner- The main job of these forensic experts is to analyze uses of firearms and tools. In private investigations this can be useful in firearm accidents, civil cases resulting from firearm use, employee thefts that involve the use of tools, and cases of questionable deaths. They can analyze tool marks, bullet type, trajectory, and more.

Shoeprints and tire tracks- In cases of trespass, employee theft, and other civil cases, tire marks and shoe prints might be present at the scene of investigation. If this is the case an expert can analyze them and match them to a specific vehicle or shoe.

There are many applications of forensic science, many options for collecting and analyzing physical evidence. So why do many private investigators seem to neglect this opportunity to gain hard evidence? The answer may be mostly financial. Many clients cannot afford to pay for the resources that forensic science demands. The private investigator is unlikely to understand the vast field of forensic science themselves, and it can be difficult to find a scientist who is qualified to examine and analyze the evidence.

Despite these limitations, there are clearly many ways in which forensic science could improve the quality of private investigations. It is up to the investigator, and unfortunately also the resources of the client, to decide whether scientific analysis will add value to the case, or whether the classic surveillance and interview techniques will be enough. The private investigator should be prepared, that if they do apply forensic science to the case, the evidence that it brings to light could sway the investigations one way or the other, sometimes refuting the case, as well as supporting it.

 

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