17,902 violent crimes and 129,743 property crimes were reported in Oklahoma in 2012. Crime scene investigators (CSIs) were involved in solving many of these crimes. These forensic specialists are part of a group of two hundred forensic scientists who were employed in the state in 2012 earning an average salary of $59,170.
Law enforcement officials typically bring in crime scene investigators as soon as a crime scene has been secured. These professionals document the crime scene by sketching, photographing, and videotaping it. They collect and preserve physical evidence to be analyzed back in a crime lab. Despite the glamour of these jobs in the popular media, they entail being on call 24/7 and exposed to such potential hazards as decomposing bodies and dangerous chemicals.
Oklahoma Crime Scene Investigation Units
The Investigative Services Division of the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation (OSBI) has specially trained crime scene investigators throughout the state ready at all times to respond to crimes. It has nine regional offices throughout the state, including ones in Tulsa and Stillwater.
Some other departments in Oklahoma that utilize crime scene investigators include the following:
- Oklahoma City Police Department
- Crime Scene Investigations Unit
- Norman Police Department
- Criminal Investigations Unit
- Midwest City Police Department
- Broken Arrow Police Department
- Crime Laboratory
Types of CSI Jobs in Oklahoma
CSI positions can be filled by civilians with forensic science or criminal justice training or by sworn officers who have years of investigative experience.
Civilian – The trend in Oklahoma is moving towards employing civilian CSIs in police departments to work the crime scenes and free up the police officers to concentrate on situations that require armed personnel and immediate intervention. The Oklahoma City Police Department had hired six civilian CSIs as of 2013 and is working on filling all of their CSI positions with civilians as officers transfer out of the unit or retire.
Applicants for civilian CSI jobs in Oklahoma are typically required to have at least a bachelor’s degree in the forensic sciences, criminal justice, law enforcement, or crime scene investigation. Prospective students in Oklahoma can obtain such degrees from schools located in the state or from online schools that offer these types of degrees.
Law Enforcement – in many law enforcement agencies, sworn officers fill CSI positions. Typically, they are chosen after several years of experience on the force. Individuals become sworn officers through a rigorous selection procedure and then academy training.
While some departments do not require college degrees, others require a minimum of 60 semester hours from an accredited university or college. Having a degree in criminal justice can help distinguish candidates. Officers chosen to become CSIs then receive high level forensic training.
Continuing education is important for all crime scene investigators to keep abreast of the constantly changing technologies involved in processing crime scenes. One way in which to do this is to take additional college courses.
CSI Certification in Oklahoma
Those with CSI experience in Oklahoma are qualified to join the Oklahoma Division of the International Association for Identification. This group of forensic and investigative specialists meet annually in the state to exchange new ideas and learn new techniques.
This organization also offers certification in an array of forensic techniques, including crime scene analysis and forensic art and video techniques. Such certification indicates that the CSIs are masters of their craft and can impart additional credibility when testifying in court.