A crime scene supervisor, also commonly referred to as an evidence coordinator leader, a crime scene field supervisor, or a crime scene team leader, is responsible for overseeing the operations of an evidence team at a crime scene.
A crime scene supervisor is a senior crime scene investigator called upon to establish an organized approach to gathering evidence at a crime scene through:
- Expeditious processing
- Proper scene documentation
- Proper evidence recovery
- The proper use of resources, equipment and supplies
- Proper handling and packaging of evidence
- Proper safety precautions
- Proper evidence analysis and preservation
An average crime scene, at first glance, may appear to be disorganized; however, crime scene leaders ensure that all members of the evidence team understand and successfully complete their specific duties at the scene of the crime. They coordinate all members of the evidence team and delegate tasks to ensure that all physical evidence is being properly and lawfully collected, preserved, packaged, and transported.
Given the hectic nature of an active crime scene, crime scene supervisors must be able to take control of the scene and ensure that:
- Personnel are properly protected by following specific protocol and by using appropriate protective equipment
- A preliminary survey is taken of the scene and that the crime scene perimeter is properly secured
- Adequate equipment and supplies are available
- Access to the crime scene is limited and controlled
- All material and information is properly logged at the scene
- The search moves at a productive and efficient pace
- All procedures are performed in accordance with established protocol and statutes
Crime scene supervisors are also responsible for ensuring that all members of the evidence team are properly trained in all areas of analyzing, collecting, and processing crime scene evidence and that they are prepared to serve as expert witnesses in a court of law.
These crime scene professionals must ensure that accreditation standards are met and that new techniques and procedures for evidence collection and processing are explored.
Crime scene leaders are also often responsible for ensuring that a comprehensive training program for all evidence personnel is in place and that all team members are current on the latest techniques, protocols, and procedures.
Education Requirements for Crime Scene Leaders
Because of the supervisory role of a crime scene leader, this professional is often a senior crime scene investigator with a formal education and significant experience. Although the minimum educational requirements for crime scene supervisors may vary according to the law enforcement agency through which them are employed, these CSI professionals most often possess bachelor’s degrees in chemistry, biology, forensic science, or a closely related field.
Many times employers will prefer candidates with master’s degrees in one of these fields, as well as an advanced training background, which often includes at least 4 to 6 years of crime scene investigation experience.
Further, many crime scene leader positions require candidates to possess a forensic science specialty, such as latent fingerprint examination, questioned document examination, crime scene analysis, etc., and some type of experience serving in a supervisory or lead role in a forensic laboratory or crime scene unit.
Professional Certification for Crime Scene Leaders
Due to the competitive nature of this profession, many employers demand that these CSI professionals possess certification through the International Association for Identification (IAI) as a Certified Crime Scene Investigator and as a Crime Scene Analyst
To be eligible for certification as a Crime Scene Investigators, candidates must:
- Have at least one year of crime-scene related experience
- Have completed at least 48 hours of Crime Scene Certification Board-approved instruction within the last 5 years
To be eligible for certification as a Crime Scene Analyst, candidates must:
- Have at least 3 years of crime-scene related experience
- Have at least 96 hours of Crime Scene Certification Board-approved instruction in crime scene related activities within the last 5 years
Salary Expectations for Crime Scene Supervisors
Recent job postings for crime scene supervisors reveal an average salary of between $46,000 and $119,000. The salary for crime scene leaders is generally commensurate on geographic location and the size of the law enforcement agency.
For example, a job listing with the Phoenix Police Department Laboratory Services Bureau reveals that a field supervisor with this law enforcement agency, who may earn a salary of between $65,813 and $98,197, is responsible for overseeing the activities of a staff of more than 100 and eight specialized sections, including:
- Questioned documents
- Latent prints
- Forensic biology
- Evidence processing
- Crime scene response
- Controlled substances