How to Become a Crime Scene Investigator Forensic Scientist in Phoenix, Arizona

The Phoenix Police Department has more than 3,000 officers and 1,000 support personnel, making it one of the nation’s largest police departments. The Phoenix PD offers a “CSI Experience” program, which offers an inside look to curious members of the public. The program involves education on the Phoenix crime scene response unit and forensics crime lab, and also includes facility tours.

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The crime scene response team provides technical support to police detectives by photographing crime scenes and collecting, analyzing, preserving and presenting all manner of physical evidence from homicides, sexual assaults, robberies, traffic accidents, etc. Crime scene investigators (CSIs) work in the field at crime scenes and autopsies as well as in laboratories. Phoenix CSI jobs are classified as Crime Scene Specialists I, II and III, Shift Supervisors and Crime Scene Supervisors.

Crime Scene Specialist I: $35,547-$51,605; Level II: $38,771-$56,909; Level III: $42,682-$62,712; Shift Supervisor: $54,392-$81,245; Crime Scene Supervisor: $66,518-$99,195.

Forensic Scientist I: $42,682-$62,712; Level II: $46,758-$69,950; Level III: $54,392-$81,245; Level IV: $66,518-$99,195; Supervisor: $69,950-$104,416.

Requirements for Forensics and CSI Professionals in Phoenix

Phoenix has ample educational opportunities. There are at least five two-year colleges that offer certificates and/or associate’s degrees in criminal justice or a related field. Phoenix also has one or more four-year colleges/universities that offer bachelor’s and master’s degrees in forensic science, chemistry or other natural sciences. Phoenix residents can also take advantage of numerous, accredited four-year schools offering online degrees.

CSI – All crime scene specialists need knowledge of evidence collecting/preserving, crime scene photography, rules of evidence and computer usage. Other requirements include:

  • Able to communicate orally and in writing in English
  • Willing to work nights, weekends and holidays and in all kinds of weather
  • Able to travel over rocky, uneven surfaces and lift objects over 50 pounds
  • Able to work in aircraft or on elevated platforms, ladders or roofs
  • Able to work in spite of decomposing bodies, strong odors, insects, hostility and/or emotionally charged situations involving child or animal victims
  • Possession of a valid driver’s license and clean driving record
  • Pass a polygraph test and background investigation

Forensic Lab Technician – Experience and educational requirements: Level I: one year education or experience in crime scene processing. Level II: one year CSI experience; associate’s degree in criminal justice or forensic science. Level III: Three years experience, including two years as crime scene specialist II and an associate’s degree or better. Supervisory positions require four or five years experience and a bachelor’s degree.

  • Knowledge of forensic science principles/procedures
  • Knowledge of laws of evidence and criminal procedure
  •  Awareness of chemical and lab safety
  • Excellent oral and written communication skills in English
  • Able to instruct others
  • Eyesight capable of seeing a full range of the color spectrum
  • Physically able to remain sitting or standing for extended periods
  • Able to measure distances accurately
  • Basic computer proficiency
  •  Bachelor’s degree or better in chemistry or a natural science
  • Valid driver’s license/clean driving record
  • Successfully pass a polygraph and background investigation

Forensic scientist II, III and IV each require two years experience at the preceding level.

All open positions, detailed job descriptions and online application forms are available on the Coty of Phoenix employment website.

Phoenix Police Department Forensics Crime Laboratory

A new $34.6 million, 104,000-square foot, state-of-the-arts forensics crime laboratory opened in Phoenix in 2007. A staff of 140 to 150 sworn and civilian professionals works around the clock in specialized labs for processing different kinds of evidence such as controlled substances, forensic biology, latent prints or questioned documents. The nationally accredited facility includes the latest equipment for DNA analysis, a firearms testing range, a vehicle inspection lab and chemical and evidence storage rooms.

Forensic Scientist Job Description and Functions in Phoenix

Forensic scientist I is an entry-level position that includes a 24-month, structured training program consisting of classroom instruction, required reading, research and presentation and mock trial participation. Closely supervised job functions include:

  • Physical and chemical analyzes of crime scene evidence
  • Quality control testing
  • Preparation of findings for court testimony

Forensic scientist II, III and IV have successfully completed the training and work on cases with higher levels of complexity.

Crime Scene Specialists Job Description/Functions

Crime Scene Specialist I is an entry-level position that requires participation in an on-the-job training program. Job functions focus on less complex cases and include:

  • Examining crime scene evidence including bodies, blood patterns, bullet holes, fingerprints, shoe/tire prints, tool marks, etc.
  • Processing evidence using special powders, chemical solutions or forensic light sources
  • Attending autopsies to photograph injuries and take fingerprints
  • Documenting and bar-coding evidence
  • Writing detailed reports
  • Testifying as an expert witness in court

The functions of crime scene specialists II and III are basically the same but they have successfully completed the training program and work on more complex cases.

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