How to Become a Crime Scene Investigator Forensic Scientist in Denver, Colorado

The Major Crimes Division (MCD) of the Denver Police Department is responsible for investigating homicides, robberies, sexual assaults, domestic violence and other serious crimes. The Crime Lab Bureau is committed to helping the MCD solve crimes. It consists of a Crime Scene Investigation unit that works in the field and forensic units that work in laboratories.

Requirements for Crime Scene Investigator or Forensic Laboratory Jobs in Denver

Most CSI and forensic laboratory positions require at least a Bachelor of Science degree in chemistry or another natural science. Preference is given to persons holding a Master of Science degree. Certain units require degrees in specific fields. For example, DNA specialists need courses in biochemistry, microbiology and genetics.

All Denver Police Department employees are required to pass a background investigation, drug test and physical standards review.

Denver has a wide range of public, private and religious colleges and universities. There are at least six accredited four-year colleges/universities and an equal number of two-year institutions offering criminal justice or forensic science associate’s degrees and/or certificates. In addition, Denver residents can opt to attain a degree from several accredited online universities offering bachelor’s or master’s degrees.

All applications for jobs with the Denver Police Department are processed by the Civil Service Commission which has a list of available positions and online application forms on their website.

CSIs and forensic scientists in Denver earn average annual salaries of $44,000 and $55,000 respectively.

Denver Police Department Crime Scene Investigation Unit

The Crime Scene Investigation (CSI) unit works in two shifts that respond to major crime scenes for the purpose of identifying, collecting, preserving and transporting evidence. Crime scene investigators (CSIs) also attend autopsies when appropriate to gather additional evidence. The unit is comprised of 12 CSIs and three supervisors who respond to over 3,000 crime scenes a year. Although it was traditionally staffed by all sworn officers, the unit has recently undergone a transition to civilian CSIs in order to place more sworn officers on Denver’s streets.

Denver Police Department Forensic Crime Lab

In 2012, the Denver Police Department’s 14,000-square-foot crime lab was replaced with a $36 million, 60,000-square-foot, three-level building that is connected to the 14th Avenue Police Administration Complex. The lab handles over 10,000 cases a year and the new facility not only allows for the consolidation of all services under one roof but provides space for such things as on-site vehicle examinations. The new lab was funded by a bond measure passed by Denver voters.

Denver Police Department Forensic Scientists

The forensic scientists who staff the DPD Crime Lab work in the following units:

  • Firearms and Toolmarks – Examine firearms, restores obliterated serial numbers, matches spent bullets/cartridges to specific firearms and compares them to state and federal databases in an attempt to link them to other crimes.
  • Forensic Biology/DNA – Examines evidence to extract DNA, develops DNA profiles and compares with DNA databases.
  • Forensic Chemistry – Performs quantitative and qualitative analyses of controlled substances, examines fire debris for evidence of arson and analyzes blood in suspected DUI cases.
  • Forensic Imaging/Computer Forensics – Handles digital and video evidence, produces photographic displays and forensically analyzes computer hardware.
  • Latent Print – Develops and analyzes latent prints, compares with state and federal finger and palm print databases and examines shoe/tire impressions.
  • Quality Assurance – Ensures that the lab meets forensic services standards.
  • Trace Evidence – Analyzes such evidence as hair shafts, glass, paint, gunshot residue, metals, rope, fibers, buttons, thread, botanicals, etc. Team includes one forensic anthropologist who examines human skeletons, bones or bony fragments in order to determine identity.  Anthropological analyses can often determine characteristics as gender, age, ethnicity, illness, pregnancy, occupation and cause of death.

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