In 2010, the rate of violent crime in Shreveport exceeded the overall rate for the state of Louisiana by nearly 40 percent. The same year it exceeded the national average by nearly 90 percent. The projected data for violent crime in Shreveport for 2013 is expected to report at least 25 murders, 1,200 aggravated assaults, more than 120 forcible rapes, and nearly 400 robberies.
In Shreveport, law enforcement agencies are locked in an ongoing battle against the groups and individuals who perpetrate these atrocities. There is a need for qualified crime scene investigators and forensic science technicians to help in this battle, as the work of CSI professionals is integral in tracking down and prosecuting violent criminals. Crime scene investigators are responsible for the thorough and accurate detection, gathering, documentation, and storage of physical evidence found at crime scenes. Lab scientists use scientific methods to help analyze the evidence and draw conclusions. Without these skilled and talented individuals it would be impossible to bring those who commit violent crimes in Shreveport to justice.
Law enforcement agencies in Shreveport that hire forensic science technicians and crime scene investigators include:
- The Louisiana State Police, Criminal Investigations Division – The CID is charged with the task of investigating criminal activity and gathering intelligence throughout the state of Louisiana.
- The Shreveport Police Department, Crime Scene Investigations Unit – This is the primary law enforcement unit in the city of Shreveport. CSI professionals with the SPD are likely to have their hands full with cases, both current and cold.
- The Caddo Parish Sherriff’s Office – The Criminal Investigations Unit of the Caddo Parish Sherriff’s Office investigates homicides, physical and sexual assaults, robberies, and other serious crimes in specific sectors of Caddo Parish.
Being a crime scene investigator or lab scientist is serious work. For example, the 2008 murder of Margaret Abbott in Shreveport is still unsolved, 5 years later. Abbott was a schizophrenic who wandered out of the house one night, and never returned. It is almost certain that if this case is to be solved, especially so long after the murder, forensic evidence gathered by a crime scene investigator, and analyzed by a lab scientist, will be needed for a conviction.
Requirements for Careers in Forensic Science and Crime Scene Investigations
Some community colleges and universities in the Shreveport area offer forensic technician degree programs specifically and directly related to crime scene investigations. Some of these programs include:
- Bachelor of Science Degree in Criminal Justice with emphasis in Crime Scene Investigation
- Bachelor of Science Degree in Criminal Justice with emphasis in Forensic Science
- Associate’s Degree in Criminal Justice
- Associate of Applied Science Certificate in Criminal Justice
On-The-Job Training and Experience
Many aspiring CSIs inquire about on-the-job training. While there are very few law enforcement agencies that offer such training in a formal capacity, some do allow unpaid opportunities for observational work in criminal investigations by request. That said, it is strongly suggested that those interested in a career in crime scene investigations begin to establish themselves in the Shreveport law enforcement community by contacting and networking with forensic science technicians and other CSI professionals before graduation from a degree program.
Another way to enter the field is by becoming a police officer directly. Employment with the Shreveport Police requires:
- Applicants pass a civil service exam
- Pass a drug screen
- Pass an extensive background investigation
- Pass a polygraph exam
- Pass a written exam
- Pass a physical
Certification and Continuing Education
Education for crime scene investigators does not stop once they finish school. New knowledge within this expansive field is extensive and ongoing and as such requires every CSI professional to continually update his or her knowledge base and skill set. The International Association for Identification’s Louisiana Division is an excellent resource for finding and taking certification classes in order to keep up with continuing education.
Finally, many CSIs hold master’s degrees in their area of expertise in crime scene investigations. Pursuing a master’s is one of the best ways for CSIs to sharpen and hone their skills and to stay abreast of the latest technology and innovations in the field of forensic science.
It is important to keep in mind that the education and training of a forensic science technician never truly ends. The complex nature of CSI work dictates that complacency is never an option. The technology and methodology involved with forensic science is constantly evolving and it is critical to keep up with that evolution throughout the course of a CSI career.