Becoming a crime scene investigator in Iowa takes a special kind of person. Not only is it necessary to work with meticulous attention to detail in challenging environments that periodically involve gruesome, tragic crime scenes – and later testify about them in court – CSI agents must also have the brains and educational willpower to competitively complete the rigorous education and training requirements mandated by their employing public safety agencies. Information about agency-specific CSI training and certification courses is available through municipal and state organizations such as:
- Sioux City Police Department
- Davenport Police Department
- Iowa Department of Public Safety headquartered in Des Moines
- Cedar Rapids Police Department
CSI jobs in Iowa are filled by competent professionals who have the skills and training to carry out their job duties with a level of expertise that allows evidence to stand up as evidence in a court of law.
Crime Scene Investigator Education and Training
Certification and Training
There are two CSI career paths interested candidates can follow to prepare for jobs in the field:
- Going in to general law enforcement employment and moving later into a specialized CSI position
- Obtaining training in a particular CSI field and entering directly into forensic careers.
Crime scene investigators can choose among a variety of specializations for Iowa CSI certification:
- DNA analysis
- Footprint and tread identification
- Latent fingerprint identification
- Biological evidence collection
- Fire and arson analysis
- Drug/chemical analysis and collection
CSI Schools and Colleges
There are a number of CSI colleges and schools in Iowa – public, private, not-for-profit, and online – that offer relevant degree programs for prospective crime scene investigators. Agencies look for CSI candidates with a combination of years of experience and education equivalent to an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in the following subject areas:
- Criminal Psychology
Candidates with an eye on career advancement beyond technician and basic analyst positions should consider obtaining at least a bachelor certificate as these are required for the more senior posts. For example, to become a special agent with the state’s Division of Criminal Investigation requires a candidate to meet one of the following conditions:
- Possess a bachelor’s degree
- Possess an associate’s degree and have three years of law enforcement experience
- Have five years of law enforcement experience
Cracking Cold Cases in Iowa
An exemplary case of why good CSI work is essential was recently in the Iowa news as a man was arrested on charges relating to a 38-year-old murder case. CSI officers were called to a rural farmhouse outside Blakesburg in 1974 upon the discovery of a 17-year-old young woman’s body. Investigators determined she had died from gunshot wounds as well as having been sexually assaulted, and were able to gather evidence that was stored in the state’s Crime Laboratory. Using modern technology, CSI agents were able to link the arrested suspect to the victim using DNA evidence and computer networks.
In another recent case that started out as being classified as suspicious, crime scene investigators ruled that in fact they were dealing with a murder after spending nearly 40 hours investigating the cordoned-off apartment complex crime scene. CSI agents were able to follow up on a small clue they found near the apartment that led police to a man whom they were forced to taser into submission for questioning, and who was then taken into custody as the principal suspect in the case.