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Crime Scene Investigator (CSI) Career Education in Mississippi

The field of crime scene investigation is expected to grow 18.5% nationally from 2010 to 2020, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.  Crime scene investigator (CSI) positions in Mississippi include everything from civilian crime scene technicians to specially trained law enforcement agents serving as detectives and investigators.

All of these individuals arrive at crime scenes as quickly as possible, document the crime scene, and gather evidence that forensic scientists will analyze back at the crime laboratory.  This type of job requires substantial training, a high degree of attention to detail, and the ability to stay composed under difficult working conditions.

Since most CSI jobs in Mississippi are found in government agencies, CSIs in Mississippi typically work for state or local law enforcement agencies.  The following departments are among those that employ specialized crime scene investigators:

  • Columbus Police Department
    • Forensic Lab: Major Crime Scene Response
    • Criminal Investigations Division
  • Desoto County Sheriff’s Department Crime Scene Unit
  • Hattiesburg Police Department Crime Scene Investigation Unit

Crime Scene Investigation in Mississippi

A number of law enforcement agencies in Mississippi employ sworn officers as their CSIs.  Often, this entails working a crime from the initial crime scene to its completion in court.  This is the case for the nine investigators of the Criminal Investigations Division of the Columbus Police Department and the ten criminal investigators of the Harrison County Sheriff’s Department’s Crime Scene Investigation Unit.

Other sworn officers in Mississippi specialize in crime scene investigation.  For instance, the Crime Scene Unit of the Desoto County Sheriff’s Department is staffed by detectives that specialize in finding and collecting physical evidence at crime scenes.  In addition, this department uses senior patrol deputies who work as crime scene technicians.

CSI Education and Training in Mississippi

The requirements to become a CSI in Mississippi vary depending on whether the position is open to civilians or only available to sworn officers.  Typically, a bachelor’s degree in forensic science, chemistry, or biology is required to become a crime scene technician.  Degrees with a forensic science concentration can be obtained through criminal justice or chemistry programs.

Entering the field of criminal science investigation is competitive, and obtaining this type of criminal justice degree will provide both the technical training and the knowledge of the legal system that CSIs must be familiar with.

Prospective students can obtain criminal justice degrees ranging from an associate’s to a master’s degree from schools located in Mississippi.  Another option is to enroll in one of the online schools that offer degrees in this field.

Those employed as CSIs must continually update their skills, since technology in the field advances rapidly.  CSIs frequently continue taking college courses throughout their careers.

CSI Certification in Mississippi

CSIs in Mississippi have the option of joining their state’s division of the International Association for Identification.  This organization of forensic scientists provides options for certification in specialties such as:

  • Fingerprint analysis
  • Bloodstain pattern analysis
  • Crime Scene investigation, analysis, or reconstruction
  • Forensic art, video, and photography

Forensics Salary for Lab Technicians and CSIs in Mississippi

According to the Mississippi Department of Economic Security (MDES), 300 forensic science technicians were employed in the state in 2010.  The field is growing nationally and in Mississippi.  The MDES projects job growth in the double digits throughout 2020.  The increase is projected to be 13.3% with fifteen jobs becoming available each year.

Forensic labs are scattered throughout Mississippi.  The Columbus and Jackson Police Departments have their own crime labs, while the Mississippi Department of Public Safety has its main lab in Jackson.  Additional regional labs are located in the following cities:

  • Batesville
  • Gulf Coast
  • Meridian

Some areas of specialty for forensic scientists who work in a lab include:

  • Computer and video analysis
  • DNA analysis
  • Fire debris analysis
  • Firearms examination
  • Impression analysis (shoes and tires)
  • Latent fingerprint analysis
  • Toxicology

Forensic scientist salaries can vary widely depending on the amount of experience and the specialty of the scientist.  The average salary for a Mississippi forensic science technician in the period from September 2012 to October 2013 was $66,000 according to Indeed.com.

In addition, many forensic scientists are crime scene investigators (CSIs).  This position entails rapidly arriving at a crime scene to document the site and collect and preserve evidence for further examination in a lab.

The types of positions for CSIs vary greatly in Mississippi.  Some law enforcement agencies hire civilians for these positions, while others use senior patrol Deputies or sworn Criminal Investigators as their crime scene technicians.  The average salary for a crime scene investigator in Mississippi was $62,000 in the year preceding October 2013 according to Indeed.com.


CSI and Forensic Scientist in DeSoto County, Mississippi

Crime scene and evidence management in DeSoto County involves cooperation between several law enforcement agencies. Following the proper procedures for the collection of evidence by crime scene specialists, and the lab analysis undertaken by forensic scientists, are both critical to building a strong case based on solid evidence for use in the courtroom.

Police departments across DeSoto County use their own specially trained CSI detectives to process local crime scenes, sending the evidence they collect to the State Crime Lab system where forensic scientists working for the Mississippi Department of Public Safety will make a detailed analysis. The sheriff’s department also has resources devoted specifically to CSI and forensics.

Local law enforcement agencies involved in this process include:

  • Hernando Police Department
  • Horn Lake Police Department’s Detective Division
  • Olive Branch Police Department’s Criminal Investigations Division
  • Southaven Police Department Detective’s Division
  • DeSoto County Sheriff Department’s Forensic Center and Crime Scenes Unit

Required Education for CSI and Forensic Science Jobs in DeSoto County

Both forensic science and CSI jobs in DeSoto County require applicants to possess a certain level of education before being eligible for these positions.

Crime Scene Investigators – Most CSI officers started out as entry-level patrol officers or deputies with their respective police or sheriff departments and worked their way up the chain of command to the detective level. Applying to become a police officer or sheriff’s deputy requires candidates who are seriously thinking about career advancement to consider studying for a bachelor degree in one of the following:

  • Criminal Justice
  • Law Enforcement
  • Forensic Science
  • Public Administration

Forensic Lab Techs – Forensic scientists working with the state’s Department of Public Safety have the option to be based out of the North Mississippi Regional Laboratory in Batesville. The State Laboratory System has forensic science specialists in three fields, with each field having an associated degree, as described here:

  • Bioscience Section: Candidates must have a bachelor’s degree in:
    • Forensic Science
    • Biology
    • Chemistry
    • Any other directly related field
  • Impression Evidence Division: Candidates must have a bachelor’s degree in any field
  • Analytical Division: Candidates must have a bachelor’s degree in any of the following plus at least 24 semester hours of chemistry, including analytical chemistry:
    • Natural Science
    • Physical Science
    • Forensic Science
    • Chemistry

Across the state of Mississippi including the Southaven area there are a number of colleges and online schools where prospective students can find a variety of relevant degree programs. There are additional schools and colleges just across the border from DeSoto County in Memphis.

Crime Labs in the Region of DeSoto County

The DeSoto County Sheriff Department’s Forensics Center includes some of the latest technology in the field of AFIS, or the Automated Fingerprint Identification System, as part of the world’s most commonly used forensics tool and one which is responsible for thousands of convictions. The sheriff’s department also has computer and cell phone forensics specialists who work in partnership with the United State Secret Service Task Force. 

The Batesville Crime Lab specializes in three areas of forensic analysis:

  • Chemical and controlled substance identification
  • Latent print examinations
  • Blood alcohol toxicology

CSI and Forensic Scientist in Harrison County, Mississippi

Securing convictions based on evidence found at a crime scene is a collaborative effort in Harrison County. Local law enforcement agencies have specially trained and educated detectives available 24 hours a day to respond as needed to crime scenes where they collect everything from fingerprints and weapons to fibers and DNA, all to be processed in the controlled environment of the Mississippi Department of Public Safety’s Crime Laboratory system.

Law enforcement agencies in Harrison County with special CSI officers include:

  • Gulfport Police Department
  • Biloxi Police Department
  • D’Iberville Police Department
  • Harrison County Sheriff Office’s Crime Scene Unit
  • Pass Christian Police Department
  • Long Beach Police Department

Education Requirements for CSI and Forensic Science Jobs in Harrison County

Citizens who are interested in learning how to become a crime scene investigator or forensic scientist in Harrison County begin by satisfying the education requirements for these positions. There are several colleges in the Gulfport-Biloxi area with additional schools located across the state and online which offer the appropriate education for becoming a CSI officer or forensic scientist.

CSI jobs with a law enforcement agency require candidates to start out as a police officer or sheriff deputy. Each agency has its own hiring standards, and this includes having a high school diploma. Many of the specialist CSI officers also have a bachelor degree in the field of their expertise. Candidates planning on a long-term career can improve their prospects of upward mobility, and should consider an associate or bachelor degree in any of the following:

  • Criminal Justice
  • Law Enforcement
  • Natural or physical sciences

Forensic lab technician jobs with the Crime Lab’s Gulf Coast branch in Gulfport require that candidates possess a bachelor degree in their field of expertise according to the following:

  • To work in the Latent Prints and Firearm and Toolmark Examinations Division, candidates need to have a bachelor degree in any subject
  • Working in the lab’s Controlled Substance Division requires a bachelor degree in a natural science including:
    • Chemistry
    • Physical Science
    • Forensic Science
    • Chemistry
    • Forensic Science
    • Biology
    • Any other closely related field
  • Any employees who specialize in bio-science must have a bachelor degree in:

Cold Cases and the Gulfport Crime Lab

Thanks to good crime scene evidence collection and storage by law enforcement, a 35-year-old Biloxi cold case may soon be solved. One of the more grisly and tragic cases for crime scene investigators working in 1978 was the murder and assault of a 15-year-old Biloxi girl. One possible suspect was soon arrested although he was later released when detectives concluded they had the wrong man and the case went cold.

Now decades later, forensic scientists can use modern DNA technology to obtain the genetic fingerprint of the crime’s perpetrator based on biological evidence that has been kept in storage. With extra funding from a federal grant, the state’s Crime Lab system will now begin the analysis process and a positive suspect identification could be just around the corner.


CSI and Forensic Scientist in Hinds County, Mississippi

A multi-agency team in Hinds County provides forensic services to ensure justice for more than 245,000 residents. In most cases city police agencies and the county sheriff’s department utilize specially trained detectives to conduct crime scene and accident investigations, gathering evidence using an assortment of meticulous techniques, while the state Department of Public Safety’s Bureau of Investigations can also assist as needed with crime scene investigations and forensic lab work. Gathered evidence is then transported to the full-service State Crime Laboratory’s headquarters in Jackson, where it is examined and analyzed by professional forensic scientists. Cooperating CSI professionals hail from the following agencies:

  • Jackson Police Department’s Crime Scene and Accident Investigation Unit
  • Clinton Police Department’s Criminal Investigations Division
  • Byram Police Department
  • Raymond Police Department
  • Hinds County Sheriff’s Department

Certification and Degrees for CSI and Forensic Science Applicants in Hinds County

There are a number of relevant online schools and colleges with campus locations throughout the state of Mississippi and especially in the Jackson area. Students interested in obtaining an education for both CSI and forensic science careers will not have trouble finding an educational program that fits their career path.

CSI – Candidates interested in working as specially-trained CSI officers can improve their employment prospects by obtaining credentials that show they are serious and qualified for careers in the field. This begins with certifications such as:

  • Crime Scene Investigator
  • Police Officer
  • Crime Scene Technician
  • Management and Supervision

Prospective CSI agents interested in making a greater investment in their education can consider associate and bachelor degrees that will prepare them for more rapid career advancement:

  • Criminal Justice
  • Law Enforcement
  • Homeland Security and Emergency Management

Forensic Science – Forensic scientist candidates with the State Crime Lab in Jackson are required to have a degree as follows:

  • Working in the Impression Evidence Division requires applicants to have a bachelor degree in any subject
  • The Analytical Division requires candidates to have a bachelor degree in forensic science, chemistry, or any other physical or natural science field
  • The Bioscience Division requires job applicants to possess a bachelor degree in:
    • Biology
    • Chemistry
    • Forensic Science
    • Any other closely related subject

How to Become a Crime Scene Investigator and Forensic Scientist in Hinds County

Because crime scene investigation involves multiple agencies, the process of how to become a CSI agent in Hinds County is not standardized. However there is only one way to become a forensic scientist in Hinds County, and that is through the State Crime Lab in Jackson.

By far the largest employer of specially trained CSI detectives in the county is the Jackson Police Department. CSI jobs in Jackson are held by experienced detectives who have moved up the rungs of the Jackson PD’s career ladder, and who often possess a bachelor’s degree in a pertinent subject. To apply for a job with a police department located in Hinds County, candidates need to:

  • Meet the required age minimum- in Jackson it is 21 years of age, and other cities mandate their officers be at least 18 years of age
  • Have a high school diploma or GED

Forensic science jobs with the State Crime Lab in Jackson require applicants to possess at least a bachelor degree in certain specific fields, depending on the forensic scientist’s area of specialization. Applications for these positions can be made through the Mississippi State Personnel Board.

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