Baton Rouge posted the eighth highest murder rate in the country in 2011 and the twenty-fifth highest rate of violent crime the same year. The current rate of over 1,065 violent crimes per 100,000 city residents exceeds that of even New Orleans, which itself was ranked as one of the nation’s most crime-ridden cities. Law enforcement officers in Baton Rouge are struggling to get a handle on the violence, and have determined that making violent crime reduction a priority will take the efforts of all police officers.
Field crime scene professionals in Baton Rouge play a crucial role in the capture and prosecution of violent offenders by properly and accurately collecting, documenting, analyzing, and storing physical evidence found at crime scenes. They then pass this evidence to lab technicians and scientists who process the evidence and extract fingerprints, DNA evidence, and other clues which will ultimately help with the identification and prosecution of the guilty parties.
The city of Baton Rouge has a number of law enforcement agencies where forensic science technicians and crime scene investigators may seek employment. Some of them include:
- The Louisiana State Police, Criminal Investigations Division – The Louisiana State Police was founded in 1936 by legislative action. They have jurisdiction over the entire state of Louisiana. This force is the largest police force has a sizeable presence in Baton Rouge.
- The Baton Rouge Police Department – The Baton Rouge Police Department traces its roots to 1865, with the end of the Civil War. This is the primary police force within Baton Rouge, with approximately 700 sworn officers.
- The East Baton Rouge Parish Sherriff’s Office – The East Baton Rouge Parish Sherriff’s Office is involved in crime control, but also other community matters such as foreclosure evictions, and serving of subpoenas.
One of the most important aspects of entering the field of CSI is to remember that, though the work may be science and technology based, much of the “in the field” work can be very physically demanding. Baton Rouge has a climate which is hot and muggy, with temperatures often reaching the high 90s. A field CSI agent will have to not only have the patience and physical stamina to deal with long hours in inclement weather, whether hot or rainy, but also the long process that can be the legal system. For example, the 2007 trial for the killing of two LSU graduate students in Baton Rouge was held in 2013, 6 years after the crime.
Recommended Routes to Becoming a CSI Field Agent or Lab Scientist in
Although there is no formal list of criteria for becoming a crime scene investigator or lab technician in Baton Rouge, the key to being a successful CSI is education and training. The requirements for being hired on as a crime scene specialist vary from agency to agency but there are certain areas which tend to be better received in the CSI community. These degree programs are directly relevant to CSI work:
- Bachelor of Science in Molecular Biology
- Bachelor of Science Forensic Chemistry
- Bachelor of Science Forensic Biology
- Bachelor of Science Criminal Justice with an emphasis on Forensic Science
Arguably the most relevant program is any level of forensic science as it most closely comports with what field agents and lab technicians will find on the job.
On-The-Job Training and Experience – Become a Police Officer
Those who have police training have a marked advantage when it comes to being hired for any law enforcement position, be it as a crime scene investigator, or working in the lab. It should be noted that a college degree of some sort is always a plus. But, becoming an officer has its advantages. For example, in a high crime area such as Baton Rouge, police officers are sure to have plenty of experience and training in evidence handling and interviewing of witnesses. These skills go great on a resume when looking to apply for a CSI position. Baton Rouge is also home of one of the state’s Investigative Support Sections (ISS,) which may allow officers who are based in Baton Rouge more access to important training and exposure to CSI field and lab work.
Certification and Continuing Education
Baton Rouge has a competitive employment market. The city has an unemployment rate of 8 percent, which is almost a full percent above the national average. Those who desire to become CSI field agents and lab technicians are advised to gain additional training and certifications in order to show their seriousness to potential employers. The International Association for Identification Louisiana Division certifies qualified CSI applicants in the following areas:
- Crime Scene Analysis
- Crime Scene Reconstruction
- Bloodstain Pattern Analysis
- Forensic Photography
Certification is not a requirement but it is indeed necessary for career advancement in crime scene investigations. Joining an organization such as the IAI will not only help with certifications and training, but will also help with networking and job placement.