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Crime Scene Investigator (CSI) Career Education in Maine

Crime scene investigators gathered evidence from many of the Pine Tree State’s 1,629 violent crime scenes in a recent year’s time. During that period a murder was committed every 14 days, an aggravated assault every 10 hours, and robberies occurred about once each day. Thanks to the assistance and professional performance of those entrusted with CSI jobs in Maine, enough credible evidence was obtained to secure the convictions of criminals and solve a number of cases. In many instances the evidence gathered was the determining factor in convictions.

Crime scene investigators work closely with many law enforcement agencies across the state, including:

  • Criminal Investigations Division of the Portland Police Department
  • Maine State Police’s Criminal Investigation and Forensics Division
  • Criminal Investigations Division of the Lewiston Police Department
  • Maine State Police’s Crime Lab
  • Bangor Police Department’s Criminal Investigations Division
  • South Portland Police Department’s Detective Division
  • Auburn Police Department

CSI Schools and Certification

Crime scene investigators can specialize in a variety of areas that prove to be useful across many crime scenes. CSI certification courses in the following can be of particular use for those interested in pursuing a CSI career in Maine, and hint towards an investigator’s daily tasks:

  • Crime Scene Analyst
  • Forensic Photography
  • Footwear Identification
  • Latent Fingerprint Specimens
  • Forensic Video Compilations
  • DNA Preservation and Analysis

There are also several colleges that offer a two- and four-year degree in relevant CSI fields. Having an associate certificate will provide candidates with an introduction to the career basics and possibilities, while a bachelor certificate will allow for specific CSI training in specialized areas. In many instances having the right CSI education is a position requirement. Common subjects of study include:

  • Criminal Psychology
  • Physics
  • Chemistry
  • Criminology
  • Biology
  • Anthropology

Preparing for CSI Employment in Maine

While every law enforcement agency will have its own requirements for hiring CSIs, the State Police’s standards can be used as a benchmark for the certification and education requirements that will be helpful to candidates researching the process of how to become a crime scene investigator in Maine.

The following lists CSI positions with the Maine State Police and their associated education, certification, and experience requirements:

  • Forensic Technician: Candidates must have experience, training, and/or education that is equivalent to a university degree in any of the following majors:
    • Chemistry
    • Biochemistry
    • Criminalistics
  • Forensic Specialist: Candidates must have six years of experience as a State Police Officer with progressively increasing responsibilities, including two years of investigative forensic experience, and have certification as a firearms and toolmark examiner forensic scientist
  • Forensic Scientist: Candidates can qualify for this position by being certified as a firearms and toolmark examiner forensic scientist, and meeting at least one of the following requirements:
    • Master’s degree in Forensics or Criminalistics
    • Bachelor’s degree in a life/physical science, Forensics, or Criminalistics, plus two years of investigative forensic analysis work experience
    • Six years of training, work experience, and education that is directly related to forensic investigation and analysis
  • Forensic Chemist: Candidates must be able to meet either of the following requirements:
    • Bachelor degree in:
      • Forensic Science
      • Forensic Chemistry
      • Criminalistics
    • Related bachelor degree such as in the following subjects, plus one year of experience in forensic work:
      • Chemical Engineering
      • Biochemistry
      • Biological Chemical Technology

Forensics Salary for Lab Technicians and CSIs in Maine

Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) shows that forty people worked as forensic science technicians in Maine in 2012.  Their annual median salary was $42,440 with scientists in the top tenth of their wage bracket making an average of $59,060 a year.

One primary employer for forensic scientists in Maine is the Crime Lab of the Maine State Police. The lab investigates 800 to 1,000 cases a year.  Some of the analyses that scientists perform at this lab include:

  • DNA comparisons
  • Fingerprint and tire track comparisons
  • Fire debris analysis
  • Sexual assault tests
  • Weapons examinations

The forensic scientist occupational category includes both lab technicians and crime scene investigators (CSIs) who work at the scene of the crime.  The primary CSIs in many states are civilians who work for law enforcement agencies or independent forensic labs.

In Maine, though, investigators and officers from the Maine State Police perform much of the crime scene investigation work.  They are primarily based out of Bangor and Portland.

While many CSIs have specialties such as latent fingerprint or impression analysis, most of Maine’s CSIs are trained as generalists.  They have a working knowledge of a wide range of forensic science.  According to Indeed.com, the average salary for a crime scene investigator in the state in the year leading up to October 2013 was $49,000 a year.


CSI and Forensic Scientist in Bangor, Maine

A report from the Maine Department of Public Safety in 2010 indicates that the rate of crime was higher in the city of Bangor than in any other Maine community that year. The crime index showed significant crimes were perpetrated against 71.6 per 1000 people, much higher than the state’s average of 25.34 per 1000 people.

Law enforcement officials attribute these numbers to many factors, including the spike in property crimes in Bangor, the large number of homeless persons and sex offenders, and the proliferation of methadone clinics across the city. An increase in crime is never good news, but it bodes will for those who wish to pursue forensic science and crime scene investigation (CSI) jobs in Bangor, as the need for these specialized professionals is expected to rise.

Forensic Science and CSI Education in Bangor

An undergraduate certificate or degree is usually the minimum requirement for forensic science and CSI jobs in Bangor. In the Bangor area, related degrees within these disciplines include:

  • Bachelor of Science in Forensic Science, with instruction in:
    • Crime scene processing
    • Forensic science in the justice system
    • Evidence documentation
    • Comparing pattern evidence
    • Judicial and courtroom procedures
    • Examination of evidence
    • Research and analysis
    • Presumptive and confirmatory testing of forensic samples
  • Bachelor of Science in Computer Forensics, with instruction in:
    • Intrusion detection systems
    • Technical writing
    • Criminal law
    • Computer operating systems
    • Statistics

Requirements for Forensic Science and CSI Jobs in Bangor

Most jobs in forensic laboratory science and crime scene investigations in Bangor are considered sworn police officer or detective positions, which carry special requirements. For example, in order to become a Detective in the Bangor Police Department, one must first become a Police Officer. Requirements include:

  • Attaining the age of 21
  • Possession of at least a high school diploma or GED (post-secondary education in a criminal justice or law enforcement field is favorable)
  • Pass a physical agility test required by the Maine Criminal Justice Academy
  • Pass a written examination
  • Pass oral boards
  • Pass a thorough background investigation
  • Pass a polygraph examination
  • Pass a psychological examination
  • Pass a medical examination

After becoming a Police Officer, training will be provided and is mandatory. For those who wish to work in crime scene investigation, the Department will instruct Officers on the trainings and experience they will need in order to become a Detective.

Organizations Supporting Forensic Science and CSI Jobs in Bangor

Bangor Police Department – The city’s police department has a Criminal Investigations Division, which is the most likely spot to find Bangor jobs in forensic science and crime scene investigation (CSI). Sworn Detectives work in this division of the police department, as well as Evidence Technicians, Arson Investigators and Domestic Violence Investigators. Detectives within this division may be specially trained to conduct polygraph tests, blood spatter analysis, fingerprint identification, evidence collection and forensic computer analysis.

FBI Resident Office – Bangor – The Boston Division of the FBI has a Resident Office located in Bangor. This office is responsible for federal crimes occurring within the Maine counties of Washington, Pitcataquis, Penobscot, Hancock, and Aroostock. FBI Special Agents may be trained for Evidence Response Teams in a forensic specialty, working at the scene of the crime to gather physical evidence. This evidence is taken to an FBI laboratory where it is processed and analyzed. The Computer Analysis and Response Team is a similar team that works with digital evidence, collecting and processing computers and related evidence at a crime scene.

Maine State Police Computer Crimes Unit – Bangor Satellite Laboratory – The Maine State Police has a satellite lab for its Computer Crimes Unit in Bangor. The laboratory processes digital evidence from computer crimes across the state for law enforcement officers and prosecutors in Maine.


CSI and Forensic Scientist in Lewiston, Maine

According to the Uniform Crime Report (UCR) of 2012, during that year Lewiston, and the greater Androscoggin County area of Maine saw the following crimes reported, in order of greatest to least common:

  • Larceny
  • Burglary
  • Robbery
  • Motor vehicle theft
  • Aggravated assault
  • Rape
  • Arson

The city of Lewiston reported the highest crime rate of any city within Androscoggin County in 2012. It is likely that crime scene investigators (CSIs) were called to the scenes of many of these reported crimes. One of their jobs is to collect evidence at the crime scene, which is then processed in a laboratory by experts in forensic laboratory science. Forensic laboratory science and CSI jobs in Lewiston, therefore, are highly important to maintaining the safety of the city and helping law enforcement fight and prevent crimes there.

Forensic Science Education Options in Lewiston

Lewiston crime scene investigation and forensic laboratory science jobs usually require some sort of college certificate or degree.

Most of Lewiston’s employers are looking for candidates with forensic science or related degrees. The following degree programs are offered in the Lewiston area:

  • Associate of Science in Public Administration
  • Bachelor of Science in Public Administration
  • Bachelor of Science in Forensic Science
  • Master of Science in Forensic Science

Some forensic science and CSI employers in the Lewiston area require employees to obtain professional certification or continuing education training as a condition of employment or to maintain one’s job. There are many professional certification organizations in the forensic science/CSI realm.

Certification through the American College of Forensic Examiners Institute in one of the following specialties may be required, depending upon one’s job:

  • Certified Criminal Investigator (CCI) – This certification is primarily for crime scene investigators who collect evidence, conduct interviews, handle evidence and provide testimony in court.
  • Certified Forensic Consultant (CFC) – This professional is certified in knowledge of legal principles, the litigation process, consultation, depositions, discovery and trials.
  • Certified Instructor (CI) – This certification allows the holder to teach American College of Forensic Examiners Institute credentialing programs in a specialized area. Three areas of CI are possible – Instructor, Senior Instructor and Master Instructor.

Top Forensic Science Employers in Lewiston

Maine Computer Crimes Task Force at the Lewiston Police Department – This task force in Lewiston formed in 1999 and is a joint effort of the Maine State Police, Lewiston Police Department, and the Northern New England Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force. Computer crimes throughout the state of Maine are investigated here, as are computer forensic investigations. Forensic science jobs here have the titles of Detective and Examiner.

Creative Forensic Services – Located in Lewiston, this privately owned company provides forensic audio and video enhancement, intelligibility improvement, authentication, and analysis of recorded evidence for law enforcement and individuals on a contracted basis. Forensic science job titles here include Forensic Audio Video Expert and Certified Forensic Expert.

Lewiston Police Department Criminal Investigations Division – Police Officers and Detectives (the two main forensic science job titles here) working with the Criminal Investigations Division of the Lewiston Police Department work at the scene of the crime, collecting evidence and making sure it reaches its processing destination. They may also be called upon to testify in court.


CSI and Forensic Scientist in Portland, Maine

Many, but not all, crime scene investigator and forensic laboratory science jobs in Portland, Maine require that the applicant first be a sworn police officer. While requirements for police officers differ from one jurisdiction to another, in Portland one of the best options is to become a state trooper. Requirements for this job include being at least 21 years old, having no serious criminal records or motor vehicle records, and passing the state’s physical fitness test.

All members of the Maine State Police must also pass an extensive background investigation and interview with the Colonel prior to hire. Once hired, a Maine State Police Trooper in Portland may opt to receive specialized training in order to become a crime scene investigator (CSI) or forensic lab science specialist.

Forensic Science and CSI Education for Forensic Science CSI Jobs in Portland

Just as there is a wide variety of crime scene investigation and forensic lab science jobs in the Portland area, options for education for these jobs differ. Most jobs do require some type of college degree through a recognized training school.

Degree options in Portland include:

  • Associate of Applied Science in Fire Science – This degree is a foundation for a career in fire science and fire investigation. Classes and skills taught include firefighting tactics, code inspections, fire prevention, building codes and firefighter safety. Jobs that may be available in Portland for graduates include firefighter, fire investigator, fire inspector and supervisor.
  • Bachelor of Science in Fire Science – This degree can help a fire investigator or inspector further a career and seek advancement. It can also be a stepping-stone along the way to a master’s degree in criminal justice, emergency management and other disciplines.
  • Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice – This type of degree usually must be combined with a concentration or specialization in criminal investigation or forensic science if one wants to obtain a CSI or forensic science job in Portland after graduation.
  • Master of Science in Public Administration – This degree is suitable for someone who already works in the CSI or forensic science field and is looking for advancement in managerial or supervisory opportunities.

Organizations Supporting Forensic Laboratory Science and CSI Jobs in Portland

Maine State Police Crime Lab – Located in Augusta, about 50 miles from Portland, the State Police Crime Lab is divided into the following units:

  • Latent Prints – Employs Latent Print Examiners
  • Firearms/Toolmarks – Employs specialists to examine toolmarks and firearms
  • Forensic Biology- Employs Forensic Biologists who study DNA and other biological evidence
  • Forensic Chemistry- Employs Forensic Chemists to study toxicology and other chemical evidence

Maine State Police Evidence Response Team – This division of the State Police, also located in Augusta, is responsible for examining major crime scenes, to find and establish relationships with evidence at the scene. It employs 29 sworn detectives who are Scene Analysts and Scene Technicians, all of whom are Forensic Science generalists. Additionally, 20 Associate Members of the Evidence Response Team are specialists in disciplines such as pathology, trace evidence and prints.

Maine Health and Environmental Testing Laboratory, Forensic Chemistry Section – Located in Augusta (50 miles from Portland), this laboratory provides toxicology and drug chemistry testing, as well as testing of horses in harness racing and radiochemistry in the environment (testing for radioactive material). Toxicologists and Forensic Chemists are just two of the types of forensic science jobs here.

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