- A.S. in Criminal Justice, B.S. in Criminal Justice - Corrections, and M.S. in Criminal Justice
Crime scene investigators in Indiana have the most advanced tools at their disposal to collect and process evidence found in some of the most unpleasant circumstances. From car crashes and suspicious deaths to murders and victims of sexual crimes, CSI agents and officers must be prepared professionally, mentally, and physically to adeptly use their skills in a process that will eventually see that proper justice is served. Once prospective CSI agents have identified the specific requirements of their law enforcement agency of choice, training and education can begin to form a solid and competitive career foundation.
From police departments in the state capital, South Bend, and Bloomington to the sheriff’s office in Indiana’s smaller rural communities and state troopers, CSI specialists work across the region to gather and preserve valuable evidence.
Planning Ahead for CSI Careers in Indiana
Preparing for a CSI career in Indiana means acquiring the right set of education, training, and certification required by law enforcement organizations. Although this varies from agency to agency there are common requirements across all CSI entities in the state, including:
- CSI certification and training: Many positions require CSI employees to have specialized certification and training in an area of expertise. These include:
- DNA collection and analysis
- Photography and videography
- Ballistics and bullet trajectories
- Biological specimen preservation
- Fingerprint analysis
- CSI education and degrees from accredited colleges: In addition to certification and experience, many CSI jobs in Indiana require the completion of an associate degree or bachelor degree from accredited schools. Universities and colleges, as well as online institutions, are available across the Hoosier State, offering certificate courses in:
- Organic Chemistry
- Molecular Biology
Having a bachelor’s degree allows candidates the option for a higher level of career mobility. As experienced troopers become CSI officers they will find that in order to move into higher positions they will need to have at least a bachelor’s degree in a relevant subject area.
While researching the process of how to become a crime scene investigator in Indiana, consider the following city snapshots of agents in action.
CSI Jobs in Indianapolis
The Indianapolis Crime Scene Unit works with local law enforcement officials to collect, process, and discover evidence to be used to advance an investigation and in courtroom proceedings. Crime Scene Specialists are typically called to the scenes of crimes including:
- Sex crimes
- Aggravated assault
Evidence must be collected meticulously so as not to disturb the crime scene and in a way that preserves it for future analysis by forensic scientists working in the crime laboratory. Indianapolis Crime Scene Specialists have received CSI training in the following techniques for gathering evidence:
- Diagramming, including computerized scene diagramming
- Bloodstain pattern analysis
- Latent print processing
Fort Wayne Crime Scenes
The Crime Scene Management Section of the Fort Wayne Police Department gathered and documented strong evidence as shown in a recent annual report, that saw crime scene technicians working hand in hand with their supervisors and fellow law enforcement agents. Fort Wayne crime scene management officials were involved in cases including:
- 348 total crime scenes
- 61 homicide scenes
- Recovery of 250 latent prints
- Photography of 197 crime scenes
- 135 sex crimes
- 30 suicides
Evansville Body Found in East Side Hotel
Crime scene investigators were called to an Evansville hotel after employees witnessed a man using a luggage cart to move a dead body outside to a waiting vehicle. An initial examination by police revealed there were no signs of a struggle and no apparent injuries to the body, and officials were waiting for an autopsy to learn more. In this case Evansville CSI agents played a particularly important role because if criminal charges are leveled it will be as a direct result of their discoveries and analysis of evidence. Even if the cause of death is ruled as natural, CSI officials will have helped to provide an important sense of closure to the friends and family of the victim.
Forensics Salary for Lab Technicians and CSIs in Indiana
The field of forensic sciences in Indiana is expected to grow by 21.8% through 2018 according to the Indiana Department of Workforce Development. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) indicated that 310 forensic science technicians were employed in the state in 2012.
The BLS also provides salary information for forensic scientists in the state from 2012. Data on the state as a whole along with selected cities is listed below:
While some forensic scientists work as lab technicians, others work in the field analyzing crime scenes and processing evidence for further analysis. The average salary for crime scene investigators (CSIs) in Indiana in the year preceding 2013 was $47,000 according to Indeed.com.
The types of crime scene investigator jobs can vary widely. Some individuals handle all aspects of crime scene analysis, while others specialize in analyzing such things as the discharge of weapons, latent fingerprints, or tire and shoe impressions.
Another difference between CSIs is some work as civilians in conjunction with law enforcement agencies. This is the case for the large group of CSIs that work for the city of Indianapolis. The 2013 salary for a crime scene specialist in Indianapolis ranged from $31,707 to $51,104 a year.
In contrast, other CSIs are sworn officers. To become a CSI with the Indiana State Police, applicants must first start as troopers with a starting salary of $38,444 a year. When they have been promoted to Sergeants, they can specialize in investigating crime scenes. This position starts at $49,000 a year.
The BLS provides a detailed breakdown of salary information for all forensic science technician positions in Indiana cities in 2012. It can be found on the following table:
CSI and Forensic Scientist in Evansville, Indiana
The Federal Bureau of Investigations reported that between 2009 and 2010, violent crime in America decreased by nearly 6 percent. In Evansville, Indiana, however, the rate of violent crime increased by more than 14 percent over the same period. The city’s violent crime rate is 71 percent higher than that of the state of Indiana, and in 2011 there were a total of 491 violent crimes committed in Evansville.
This data speaks to the need for qualified forensic science technicians and crime scene investigators to help in the fight against violent crime in Evansville. While it has experienced statistical ups and downs in recent years, violent crime is not going away. This is one reason that law enforcement agencies in Evansville are on the lookout for talented forensic professionals.
CSI agents in Evansville can expect to be called to the scene of a crime, such as murder or rape, in order to collect valuable evidence so that the perpetrators may be identified and successfully prosecuted.
Skills that a CSI agent or forensic lab tech in Evansville will need in order to successfully complete their mission include:
- Analytical thinking
- Strong sense of competition (get the “bad guy”)
- Strong moral character
- Ability to work under intense pressure and unfavorable conditions
- Ability to hold emotions in check
Requirements for Crime Scene Investigations and Forensic Science in Evansville
The education and coursework involved in certain degree programs offered by both brick-and-mortar and online universities and community colleges in Evansville, and around the state of Indiana, will prepare students to work as crime scene investigators and forensic lab techs.
Some of these degree programs include:
- Associate’s Degree in Criminal Investigations
- Bachelor of Science Degree in Criminal Justice with emphasis in Crime Scene Investigation
- Bachelor of Science Degree in Criminal Justice with emphasis in Forensic Science
- Bachelor of Arts Degree in Criminal Just5ice with emphasis in Forensics
Not everyone who aspires to a career in forensic science is going to choose the same degree program in which to enroll. And by no means is this an exhaustive list of the available and relevant degree programs for crime scene investigations. These are, however, some of the ones most closely associated with the industry.
On-The-Job Training and Experience
Upon graduation, many CSI applicants inquire about on-the-job training. While it is admirable to show this kind of enthusiasm, the truth is that most law enforcement agencies do not offer formal on-the-job training for crime scene investigators. But a tremendous amount of experience can be gained if one decides to become a police officer, and work their way into a position as a crime scene investigator or lab technician.
Law enforcement agencies in Evansville that hire crime scene investigators include:
- The Evansville Police Department – The Crime Scene Unit at the Evansville Police Department is responsible for all crime scene investigative and analytical duties and supports the work of other investigative divisions within the EPD.
- The Indiana State Police Lab – The ISPL provides collection and scientific analysis of evidence in four forensic laboratories.
It should be noted that entry into the police force, with the aspiration of joining the CSI team, will require the aspirant to meet all the usual requirements for any cadet of a given police department.
Forensics at work in Indiana
Take the case of former Indiana State Trooper David Camm. He was convicted twice of killing his wife and two children in 2000, only to have both convictions overturned on appeal. In late 2013 Camm entered the courtroom for a third trail on the charges.
Forensic evidence is extremely important in the case, as prosecutors try to prove that Camm’s actions on the night of the murder were consistent with a police officer who staged a crime scene after having committed the murders. Camm’s defense claims he found his family slain in the garage of their home. The case could turn on the forensic evidence that both the prosecution and defense will try to use to prove their case.
CSI and Forensic Scientist in Fort Wayne, Indiana
Violent crime is a growing problem in Fort Wayne, Indiana and although the rate of violent crime in the city was 28 percent lower than the national average, the proliferation of criminal activity over the last three years relative to years past is significant. In 2010 the city of Fort Wayne reported 313 aggravated assaults, 96 forcible rapes, 23 murders, and 314 robberies, all of which categorically fit the legal definition of violent crime.
The average number of violent crimes committed in Fort Wayne per 1,000 city residents is alarming at 3.07. Residents of Fort Wayne are calling for action after a string of brazen broad daylight shootings in the city in 2013, including one on West Wildwood Avenue, and another on Rudisill Boulevard. All of this points to an ever-increasing need for qualified forensic science technicians and crime scene investigators to help combat this growing epidemic and bring violent criminals in Fort Wayne to justice.
Requirements for Crime Scene Investigations and Forensic Science in Fort Wayne
Becoming a crime scene investigator in Fort Wayne requires commitment and dedication to the field of forensic science and investigative work. The key to being successful in this challenging and highly competitive field is education. The background requirements for CSIs in Fort Wayne vary between agencies and jurisdictions, but most in the profession have at least an associate’s degree in some area of criminal justice. Ideally the applicant would have a degree in one of the sciences, with preference going to forensic sciences.
There are a number of degree programs offered at universities and community colleges throughout Fort Wayne and the state of Indiana that feature extensive coursework directly relevant to crime scene investigations. Some of these degree programs include:
- Forensic Science
- Criminal Justice with specialization in Forensic Science
- Molecular Biology
Choosing the right area of study is dependent upon academic strengths as well as the desired area of criminal investigations. For example, the coursework involved with becoming an evidence technician is different from that which is involved with becoming a crime scene technician. The latter is usually much more rigorous and demanding than the former.
On-The-Job Training and Experience
Some people decide to enter directly into the police force, and earn their way to a position in the lab or as a crime scene investigator. This is actually a good way to enter the profession, if it is well planned in advance. For example, the Fort Wayne Police Department lists the title of “crime scene technician” as an assignment within in the police department. This means that one could presumably earn their way to such an assignment on the force. This kind of planning may not be possible with all Fort Wayne area police departments or agencies, as each has their own protocol for selecting lab and field technician.
Also of note is that in order to work one’s way up to being a lab technician or CSI agent, the aspirant would first need to be an outstanding police officer.
For example, the requirements to become an officer with the Indiana State Police include:
- Be between 21 to 40 years old
- Have vision correctable to 20/50
- Pass a Homeland Security Department eligibility screen
- Possess a valid driver’s license.
The careers for crime scene investigator and forensic scientist/lab technician are closely related but not the same. While a crime scene investigator in Fort Wayne would typically be responsible for visiting the actual scene of the crime and gathering evidence, the lab scientist would then further process the relevant evidence and interpret it for the state as they make a case against the accused.
Law enforcement agencies in Fort Wayne looking to hire qualified individuals to fill positions as crime scene investigators include:
- The Allen County Sherriff’s Department – The Allen County Sherriff’s Department has various functions including patrol and S.W.A.T. This department also operates a criminal investigations division which employs a civilian evidence technician.
- The Fort Wayne Police Department – The Fort Wayne Police Department is the primary police force responsible for the city, with approximately 460 sworn officers. Those looking to go into CSI would be interested in the department’s Investigative Support Division
- The Indiana State Police – The Indiana State Police is composed of various divisions, including a Criminal Investigation Division. CSI professionals with the ISP could be called on in any number of cases from traffic accidents to participating in the Meth Suppression Program.
CSI and Forensic Scientist in Indianapolis, Indiana
The rate of violent crime in Indianapolis reached a 30-year high in 2012 with 9,900 incidents reported. That is an increase of 800 incidents from the previous year, with over 100 murders, more than 400 rapes, and nearly 3,500 armed robberies occurring in the city in 2012 alone. Every facet of law enforcement in the city of Indianapolis is in operation 24 hours a day and 365 days a year in an effort to fight crime and bring perpetrators to justice.
The battle against violent crime in Indianapolis is one that is challenging and complex. One of the most important elements in that battle is the collection of highly skilled individuals known as forensic crime technicians or crime scene investigators. Bringing the people who commit violent crimes to justice is a collaborative and multi-layered task that requires the meticulous collection, documentation, and analysis of physical evidence found at crime scenes.
Some of the law enforcement agencies in Indianapolis that hire crime scene investigators and forensic lab technicians include:
- Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department, Investigations Division
- The Marion County Sherriff’s Office
- Indiana State Police
Requirements for Crime Scene Investigations and Forensic Science Jobs in Indianapolis
If you want to get ahead of the competition and truly make a name for yourself in the world of criminal justice and crime scene investigations, education is the key. Most of today’s crime scene investigation professionals have at least an associate’s degree in criminal justice or a related field and many have a bachelor’s degree. The importance of adequate training and education in the field of forensic science as it relates to criminal investigations cannot be overstated.
Some of the relevant degree programs to look into for those wishing to become a crime scene investigator include:
- Forensic Science
- Molecular Biology
- Criminal Justice with an emphasis or specialty in crime scene investigations
Pursuing a degree in one of these fields will get you on the road toward becoming a CSI professional in Indianapolis. Choosing the right field for you is dependent upon what kind of crime scene investigations you would like to make a career out of. The educational requirements for becoming an evidence technician, for example, are not as rigorous or extensive as those for becoming a criminalist. Since there is such a variation in the requirements specific to each area of CSI work it is advisable to contact the law enforcement agencies listed above in order to get more information.
Once you have spent some time on the job as a CSI professional in Indianapolis, it is important to continue your education in crime scene investigations. For many CSIs that includes obtaining certification as a crime scene technician. Those looking for certification as a crime scene investigator must apply through the Indiana Crime Scene Certification Committee. The requirements for certification include:
- A completed application
- A letter of confirmation from applicant’s department head
- Proof of the completion of five different kinds of crime scenes
- Minimum of 120 hours of crime scene related training
- Passing score on the proficiency exam