According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, crime scene investigators (CSIs) in Delaware are the fourth highest paid in the nation, earning an annual mean salary of $77,960 or $37.48 an hour. Even more important, CSIs have the non-monetary benefit of knowing their work is critically important in solving crimes. The evidence collected and processed by CSIs has become the most important factor in ensuring that justice is served by sending a criminal to prison or feeing an innocent one.
CSI Jobs in Delaware
The goal of a crime scene investigation unit is to collect, preserve, package, transport and document physical evidence from a crime scene. A crime scene investigator’s job may be full- or part-time depending on the location. Crime scene investigators in California are easily kept busy full-time in large, metropolitan areas where crimes are everyday occurrences but it might be part-time work in sparsely populated areas. However, once a crime is committed, CSIs work long hours during which they must pay close attention to detail. Obviously, a CSI doesn’t walk away in the middle of a crime scene examination because the clock says the work day is over.
The types of physical evidence collected by CSIs include:
- Forensic: blood, bodily fluids, hair, nail scrapings, bloodstain patterns
- Trace: paint, glass, fibers, fire accelerant, gunshot residue
- Impression: fingerprints, footwear, fabric impressions, tire marks, bite marks
- Firearms: weapons, bullet casings, gun powder patterns, cartridges, fragments
The importance of physical evidence cannot be overstated. It may be responsible for:
- Proving a crime has been committed
- Linking a suspect to a crime
- Substantiating key elements of a crime
- Identifying a victim or suspect
- Corroborating witness testimonies
- Exonerating an innocent suspect
Requirements for Becoming a CSI in Delaware
Although actual requirements differ between employers, education and experience are the two key qualifications for becoming a crime scene investigator in Delaware. Some agencies will hire low-level CSIs with an associate’s degree but most require at least a bachelor’s degree in forensic science, chemistry, etc. More and more institutions of higher education in Delaware are offering degree programs and training in crime scene investigation. There is one school in Delaware with a CSI program from which 17 students graduated in the 2008-09 school year.
Students hoping to pursue a career as a CSI would be wise to take advantage of any available student internship programs. Most entry-level CSIs are given an extensive period of on-the-job training during which time they work under the close supervision of an experienced colleague. Continuing education is the key to advancement, especially CSI certification offered by the International Association of Identification (IAI).
The Chesapeake Bay Division of the IAI serves CSIs in Delaware, Maryland, DC, Virginia and West Virginia. They have conferences, post job notices, offer a variety of educational opportunities and provide certification. Persons eligible to take the certification test must have at least one full year’s crime scene investigation experience and have completed 48 hours of board-certified courses within the last five years. The Chesapeake Bay IAI offers numerous internet courses for a reasonable fee. For example, their 16-hour “Intermediate CSI” course covers situations not encountered on a daily basis, including:
- Casting footwear under water
- Lifting fingerprints from skin
- Tire track measurement
- Bloodstain documentation
- Forensic light source techniques
Dover Police Department CSI Division
Police officers have been investigating crime scenes for many decades; however, rapid technological advances and the institution of crime scene investigation as a specialized profession is resulting in changes in police department activities. The Police Department in Dover, Delaware’s capital city, formed a CSI unit in 2010 which became fully functioning in March of 2011. Under the direction of Det. Larry Simpkiss, a graduate of the prestigious National Forensic Academy, the Dover Police Department CSI unit utilizes the latest and most innovative evidence collecting techniques.
Cooperative University/Business Venture Advances CSI Technology
Delaware State University, in cooperation with the Delaware Departments of Public Safety and Homeland Security, is involved in a cooperative venture with Advanced Response Concepts Corporation, a Massachusetts-based technology company. They are developing a new CSI tool that utilizes a tablet computer to take photographs and record sound. Called “Condor,” the hand-held device reduces the amount of paperwork by allowing CSIs to record crime-scene evidence more rapidly and efficiently, thereby improving both the accountability and integrity of the process.
Forensics Salary for Lab Technicians and CSIs in Delaware
The employment levels of forensic science technicians are projected to increase nationally by 19% in the period from 2010 to 2020. The main source of employment for forensic scientists in Delaware is the state’s two crime labs:
- Delaware State Police Crime Lab
- Office of the Chief Medical Examiner (OCME) Forensics Crime Sciences Lab
Forensic scientists are typically civilian employees. Listed below are the 2012 salary ranges for the following state positions:
- Forensic scientist I: $37,125 – $45,878
- Forensic scientist III: $51,531 – $78,884
The employees of the state police’s crime lab include the following positions:
- Forensic chemist
- Forensic microscopist
- Questioned document examiner
The specialties of the OCME lab in Wilmington include the following types of analyses:
- Blood alcohol levels
While many forensic scientists work as technicians in the lab, others are in the field processing crime scene evidence. A crime scene investigator (CSI) position can be filled by sworn officers or by civilians.
In Dover, the CSIs are detectives. They use a special evidence detection vehicle to collect vital evidence at crime scenes. According to Indeed.com, the average salary for a CSI in Delaware was $51,000 in the period from November 2012 to October 2013.
CSI and Forensic Scientist in Dover, Delaware
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) reports that over the past ten years, violent crimes in Dover have increased by 18 percent. It is tied with Seaford for the city with the third highest violent crime rate in the state. All of these facts indicate that the job market for forensic science and CSI professionals in Dover should be favorable in the coming years.
Forensic Science and CSI Degrees in Dover
Depending upon the type of forensic science or CSI job one desires, education in these fields is available at both the undergraduate and graduate levels in Dover-based schools and online. Programs include:
- Bachelor of Forensic Biology – This degree is designed to train students to become Forensic Biologists and perform these duties:
- Crime scene analysis
- DNA analysis
- Cause of death investigations
- Written and oral evidence presentations
- Bachelor in Social and Criminal Justice Forensics – This degree teaches students about the legal and social aspects of the criminal justice system. Techniques and subjects taught include:
- Terrorism prevention
- Crime prevention
Examples of Forensic Science and CSI Job Titles Within Organizations in Dover
- Delaware State Police Crime Lab – Located in Dover, the main state police crime laboratory provides forensic services for the Delaware State Police and law enforcement agencies statewide. Services include:
- Forensic and general photography
- Forensic science jobs here include Crime Scene Photographer, Digital Media Technician
- Questioned document analysis
- Forensic science jobs here include Questioned Document Examiner
- Hairs and fibers analysis
- Forensic science jobs here include Forensic Microscopist
- Blood and breath alcohol analysis
- Forensic science jobs here include Forensic Chemist and Crime Lab Technician
- Forensic and general photography
- General Dynamics at Dover Air Force Base – General Dynamics Information Technology is a private company that works at and contracts to do forensic work, at both the information technology and forensic science levels, for Dover Air Force Base. Examples of forensic science jobs here include Forensic Autopsy Technician, Forensic Scientist, Forensic Dentist, DNA Analyst, DNA Technician and Forensic Pathologist. These forensic science professionals are often called upon to process evidence from military crimes and from military personnel killed in the line of duty.
- Department of the Army, Dover Air Force Base – The army base also employs its own forensic science professionals, such as Chemists who perform forensic toxicological research.
- American Registry of Pathology, Division of Forensic Toxicology, Armed Forces Medical Examiner System – This group is responsible for forensic toxicology consultation services with the Department of Defense, the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System and other federal agencies and bureaus. Forensic science jobs here include Analytical Toxicologist and Forensic Science Research Associate.
- Dover Police Department Criminal Investigation Unit – The city police department’s Criminal Investigation Unit investigates all major crimes and crime scenes occurring throughout Dover. It employs Detectives, Patrolmen, Corporals, Master Corporals and Detective Sergeants.
CSI and Forensic Scientist in Newark, Delaware
As a college town, Newark, Delaware is not without its share of crime. In fact, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, total reported crime in Newark has increased by three percent over the past decade. Violent crime has increased by eight percent during the same time period. Approximately 1400 crimes occur in Newark each year, with half of these crimes occurring less than a mile from the victim’s home. Crimes such as these keep Newark forensic science and crime scene investigation (CSI) workers busy throughout the year.
Forensic Science and CSI Degrees in Newark
A variety of degrees at the graduate and undergraduate levels are offered to students of crime scene investigation and forensic science in Newark. Some are offered at brick and mortar schools, while other degree programs are available online. In Newark, they include:
- Bachelor of Science in Medical Laboratory Science – This degree program trains scientists to work in forensic and other laboratories. Courses include:
- Forensic science
- PhD in Medical Sciences – This program trains students to be doctors in a variety of the medical sciences, including forensics and pathology. Coursework includes:
- Data analysis and interpretation
- Cellular immunology
- Molecular immunology
- Medical physiology
- Additionally, after receiving a degree, some forensic science and CSI professionals opt to become certified by the American Society of Clinical Pathologists (ASCP). Certifications via exam and experience are available at different levels, including:
- Technician certification
- Specialist certification
- Technologist/scientist certification
- Diplomate certification
Forensic Science and CSI Job Titles and Locations in Newark
CSC (Computer Sciences Corporation) – This computer forensics company in Newark provides computer forensics and information security for companies on a contractual basis. Examples of job titles here could include Senior Professional: Computer Forensics and Associate: Computer Forensics. A minimum of a bachelor’s degree in computer science is necessary for most jobs here, as is certification as a Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer (MCSE).
Nemours – The children’s hospital and clinic system in Newark and Wilmington often has openings for forensic science professionals to provide forensic services in cases of sexual or other child abuse. One recent job opening here was Forensic Nurse Examiner, Sexual or Physical Assault. Registration as an RN in Delaware and SANE Pediatric Certification by the IAFN (International Association of Forensic Nurses) Forensic Nursing Certification Board is necessary for this job.
University of Delaware – The Forensics Department at the University of Delaware in Newark runs a Certificate in Forensics program and is often in need of professionals in the field to act as instructors. Topics in the program include Specialty Areas within Forensic Science, Processes in the Criminal Justice System, and Medical/Legal Aspects of Forensics. These classes are usually taught by professionals in the field such as:
- Forensic toxicologists
- Forensic science specialists
- Forensic legal nurse consultants
- Forensic nurse examiners
- Computer forensics experts
- Chief Medical Examiner
CSI and Forensic Scientist in Wilmington, Delaware
Wilmington, Delaware’s largest city, is within driving distance of two other major metropolitan job markets, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and Deptford/Cherry Hill, New Jersey. Forensic science and crime scene investigation, or CSI, jobs may be found within the city of Wilmington or in nearby Pennsylvania or New Jersey.
According to data provided by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)’s Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) program, violent crime in Wilmington has increased by six percent over the past decade. Every day in the city, there are approximately 16 crimes. Theft is the most common crime in Wilmington, followed by burglary, auto theft, assault, robbery, rape, murder and arson. Forensic science and CSI professionals are needed in Wilmington to help gather and process evidence from these crime scenes.
Forensic Science and CSI Degrees
A recent search of the classifieds for Wilmington, Delaware found the following jobs in the crime scene investigation and/or forensic science arena available. Next to each job are the degree and/or educational requirements necessary to be eligible for the position:
- Forensic DNA Analyst – requires a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in forensic science, biology or chemistry, and the following coursework:
- Molecular biology
- Molecular genetics
- Recombinant DNA technology
- Population genetics
- Research & Development Scientist/Laboratory Prep – requires a Ph.D. in chemical engineering, material science, biochemistry, polymer chemistry or chemistry
- Information Security Engineer – requires a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in computer science or information security
- Forensic Processor /Technician – this is an entry level position for those with a high school diploma or GED, but experience and/or education in the field is highly valued by the employer
- Research Assistant – requires a minimum of a bachelor’s degree (master’s degree preferred) in one of the science fields, with coursework including:
Employers of Forensic Scientists and Crime Scene Technicians
Office of the Chief Medical Examiner Forensic Sciences Laboratory – Jobs here may include Forensic DNA Analyst and Medical Examiner. Located on South Adams Street in Wilmington, the OCME Forensic Sciences Laboratory has two chief components:
- The OCME investigates all sudden deaths occurring statewide
- The Forensic Sciences Laboratory performs lab tests in arson investigations, performs blood alcohol tests for DUI cases, analyzes narcotics and other drugs, and provides expert witness court testimony as needed. The Forensic DNA Laboratory, part of the Forensic Sciences Laboratory, performs DNA analysis on evidence submitted for homicides, rapes and other cases.
Agilent Technologies – A privately owned laboratory in Wilmington, Agilent employs Analytical Chemists to perform forensic and other laboratory services for clients including law enforcement, employers and individuals. Other forensic science jobs here include Forensic Data Analyst.
Delaware National Guard – Located in Delaware City, about 12 miles from Wilmington, the Delaware National Guard employs Military Police Officers. Some of the duties of these Military Police Officers include investigation of military crime scenes and processing of crime scene evidence. Requirements to enroll in the Delaware National Guard include holding a high school diploma or GED, being between 17 and 35 years of age, passing a physical examination and a thorough background check.