There were over 5,000 instances of violent crime in Nebraska in 2010. Crime scene investigators (CSIs) have been key elements in solving many of these crimes. As soon as a crime scene has been secured, CSIs are brought onto the scene to document and preserve physical evidence for further analysis.
These forensic specialists perform the following acts at crime scenes and afterwards:
- Document the scene by photographing, sketching, and/or video
- Secure physical evidence for analysis, including:
- Bodily fluids
- Blood patterns
- Tire and shoe impressions
- Prepare written documents describing their findings
- Testify in court
Nebraska Crime Scene Investigation Units
In Nebraska, CSIs can be either civilian employees of law enforcement agencies with CSI training or sworn officers with years of investigative experience who have received high level training in forensics. The following agencies are among those in Nebraska that employ CSIs:
- South Sioux City: Criminal Investigation Section
- Omaha Police Department
- Lancaster County Sheriff’s Office: Criminal Investigations Division
- Douglas County Sheriff’s Office: Crime Scene Investigation Unit
- Contracts with over 40 law enforcement agencies in Nebraska and Iowa
CSI Education and Training in Nebraska
The education and training to become a CSI in Nebraska varies depending on whether the applicants will be applying for civilian jobs or positions as sworn officers. Civilian positions such as those in a crime lab or as evidence handling specialists typically require at least a certificate in CSI or forensics.
Given the high level of interest in becoming a CSI, applicants are advised to distinguish themselves from the competition by getting as much training as possible. Prospective students in this field can get a degree in criminal justice or forensics with a CSI option at schools in Nebraska. Selected students can get internships with the Omaha Police Department’s Criminal Investigation Bureau or its Crime Lab. Another option is to get formal training in criminal justice from one of the online schools that offer such degrees.
Applicants for investigative positions as sworn officers will have to meet their department’s requirements and obtain academy training. While a high school diploma is the basic requirement in many instances, obtaining criminal justice degrees will help applicants to be more competitive when they apply.
Officers who are chosen to be investigators will frequently work a crime from the initial analysis of the crime scene through the investigation and into court. The Nebraska State Patrol’s Crime Lab provides training in evidence collection and preservation to law enforcement officers throughout the state.
All CSIs continue to update their education to keep abreast of new technology in forensic analysis, either by taking college courses or obtaining further training from crime labs in Nebraska.
CSI Certification in Nebraska
CSIs in Nebraska frequently join the state’s chapter of the International Association of Identification. This worldwide forensic organization offers certification to those who are highly skilled in areas of forensic analysis, including the following:
- Crime scene investigation
- Fingerprint analysis
- Blood pattern analysis
- Forensic art, video, and reconstruction