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Crime Scene Investigator (CSI) Career Education in Rhode Island

Crime reports for the year 2012 indicate that the number of violent crimes has been rising in Rhode Island. 2012 saw an increase of at least 7% compared to the previous years. The trend is not new, in 2008 at least 32,470 crimes were reported, including 29 murders. Rhode Island’s law enforcement agencies have since responded positively to this rising level of insecurity by employing more well-trained, skilled and experienced crime scene investigators. The effect of these newly recruited CSI agents, which collect evidence at the scene of the crime for later use in criminal prosecution, has been well received by the general public.

CSI investigator jobs aren’t necessarily plentiful, especially jobs in forensic science. The good news is, as a result of continuous public awareness and scientific of DNA testing and other developing methods of evidence collection, the number of jobs for CSI officers has significantly increased. In fact, forensic science jobs are expected to increase by 20% by 2018.

Career Overview: Crime Scene Investigator

Crime scene investigators in Rhode Island are trained to make use of the skills and abilities to think logically, pay close attention to detail, and most importantly work systematically. Their main responsibility is to identify, collect and document any pieces of physical evidence left anywhere around a scene of crime. In short, Rhode Island CSI officers are trained to be proficient in identifying, processing and collecting physical evidence such as finger prints, pieces of hair, biological fluids, etc., from crime scenes such as a burglary, home invasion, sexual assault, or even a homicide.

Apart from the above, sketching and photography are also important aspects that are taught to CSI agents because these skills can also help in the proper collection of evidence. Generally, CSI officers employed in Rhode Island are involved in travelling to different locations, required to be present at autopsies, and endure other strenuous lines of work. Despite the Hollywood depiction, being a CSI agent is not easy, though it can be very rewarding.  According to the bureau of Labor Statistics, salaries for CSI officers range from $32,000 to $84,000 annually. In Rhode Island the range begins at approximately $50,000 per year, but varies depending on the specific police department.

CSI positions in Rhode Island may be found at such police departments as:

  • Rhode Island State Police
    • Investigation Division
  • City of Newport Police Department
    • Crime Scene Investigation Unit
  • Providence Police Department
    • Investigative Division

Requirements for CSI officer training in Rhode Island

Some of the basic requirements needed for one to qualify for training as a CSI officer in Rhode Island include:

  • Elite Analytical Skills: this involves background information on surveying of crime scenes as well as crime theory formulation.
  • Communications skills: these skills are very important for working in the crime laboratory as well as in writing and presenting crime reports after active cases are solved or closed.
  • Poise: this is one of the key requirements needed since it helps CSI officers under training to be prepared for the worst case scenarios which include horrific scenes, and the anxiety which is very common in their line of work.
  • Problem solving instincts: CSI officers in Rhode Island are also trained to be natural problem solvers. Trainees with problem solving instincts tend to blend in and master basic forensic work which is taught in the training academies.

Crime Scene Investigator Career: Education and Training

Generally speaking, in Rhode Island, to become a CSI in Rhode Island, one has to go through the police academy in order to acquire the necessary training, education and experience.

There are a few law enforcement agencies which have set only a diploma as one of their requirements for training to become a CSI officer. However, the most widely recognized paths to getting a coveted CSI position are through schooling, a law enforcement career, and becoming certified.

Degree Programs offered in Rhode Island

They include:

  • Bachelor of science  in criminal justice
  • Bachelor of science in homeland security  and crisis management
  • Forensics /Computer security trainings
  • Forensic science degrees

Note: The above mentioned education paths are to be accompanied with very strong written and verbal communication skills which are of utmost importance when making reports of crimes.

Career In Law Enforcement

Rhode Island is home to more than 40 different law enforcement agencies. All these agencies collectively have over 2000 police officers including sheriffs and patrol officers. Education is very important, as has been mentioned. But, in a competitive job market, Rhode Island has an unemployment rate of 9.1 percent, which is well above the national average of 7.7 percent, the applicant must give him or herself every advantage possible. A career in law enforcement is n excellent way to get a foot in the door to becoming a CSI officer in Rhode Island. For example, the city of Newport has six CSI agents, with two working each of three shifts. In order to qualify for the position the applicant must be a Newport, RI police officer and pass a two semester CSI training course at Rhode Island’s Kingston Campus. When the CSI agents are not processing a crime scene, they are assigned general police patrol duties.

Certification

Getting certified as a CSI agent can help to greatly increase an applicant’s chances of being accepted into any Rhode Island police department’s CSI team. The premiere CSI certification program for Rhode Island residents is the International Association of Investigation. The IAI has one of the most comprehensive CSI certification programs, as evidenced by their strict requirements. A 75 percent is needed to pass the certification course.


Forensics Salary for Lab Technicians and CSIs in Rhode Island

The average salary for a forensic scientist in Rhode Island was $61,000 in the year leading up to October 2013 according to Indeed.com.  There are several major crime labs in the state that employ forensic scientists, including the following:

  • Rhode Island State Crime Lab
  • State of Rhode Island Department of Health Forensics Sciences Lab

The first lab is in Kingston, while the second is in Providence.  Forensic science labs generally process an array of different types of evidence, including:

  • Trace evidence such as hair and fibers
  • Bodily fluids that may contain DNA
  • Tire or shoe impressions
  • Firearms
  • Latent fingerprints

While many forensic scientists have positions working in labs, others work at the scene of crimes processing evidence.  These crime scene investigators (CSIs) can be either enlisted personnel or civilians.  The Warwick Police Department is one that has a civilian criminalist on staff.

The salaries for CSI positions can vary a great deal, depending on whether the employee is a sworn officer or a civilian.  Another factor is the amount of experience that the CSI has before being hired.

Such positions can be difficult to obtain and having had an internship can greatly help the likelihood of being hired.  Indeed.com indicated that the average salary for a crime scene investigator in the period from September 2012 to October 2013 was $54,000 a year.

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