In Lehigh County, there were twenty criminal homicides committed in 2012. Seventy-five percent of these took place in Allentown. Nearly three thousand assaults were committed in the county in 2012, and there were over 13,000 property offenses that year.
Seventy-five percent of the county’s murders and over 65% of its assaults were solved, partly due to the efforts of forensic specialists such as crime scene investigators (CSIs). These professionals document crime scenes, preserve forensic evidence, and in some cases, analyze the evidence back in a lab.
Potential forensic scientists in Lehigh County have the option of attending a college in Allentown that has an accredited bachelor’s and master’s program in forensics. The bachelor’s program is limited to women, while both men and women can apply to the master’s program. Additional schools in the state offer degrees in forensic science.
Students seeking a degree in criminal justice have their choice of associate’s or bachelor’s degrees at state schools or enrolling in one of the accredited online colleges that offers degrees in this field.
Types of Forensic Science and CSI Jobs in Lehigh County
Both the state and several municipal police departments employ forensic specialists in Lehigh County. The Pennsylvania State Police Bureau of Forensic Services has a regional laboratory in Bethlehem. It provides a number of different types of forensic services including the following types of analyses:
- Bloodstain patterns
- Controlled substance, including that of clandestine drug labs
- Blood alcohol
- Automated fingerprint identification
In addition to these jobs in the laboratory, some municipal police departments in the county have CSIs on staff.
Allentown – Members of the Records and Identification Division of the Police Department photograph and process crime scenes and evidence.
Bethlehem – Forensic detectives in the Forensic Services Unit of its Criminal Investigations Division are responsible for crime scene photography and processing.
Lehigh County Career Opportunities in Forensics
Forensic Lab Positions – The Pennsylvania State Police employs forensic scientists to work in its laboratory in Bethlehem. The requirements to become a forensic scientist vary depending on whether the position is for a civilian forensic scientist or an enlisted forensic examiner.
Civilian personnel specialize in serology or the analysis of drug or trace evidence. A bachelor’s degree in one of the following or a closely related field is required:
- Forensic science
If the applicant has a degree in another field, he or she must have taken 16 credit hours of chemistry.
Forensic examiners with the State Police examine fingerprint and ballistics evidence. To become an enlisted forensic examiner requires becoming a State Trooper, completing three years of a first assignment, and then being chosen through the Specialized Position Vacancy Procedures. The state requires a bachelor’s degree for this type of position also, although it can be in any field as long as the applicant has taken at least two science courses.
CSI Positions – Potential CSIs in Bethlehem must first apply to join the Police Department. This requires an associate’s degree or at least 60 credits from an accredited college or university. No particular field is specified, but potential law enforcement officials frequently obtain formal training in criminal justice to improve their likelihood of being accepted.
The education requirement can be waived if the applicants have one of the following:
- Act 120 certification in Pennsylvania
- Two years of active military service with an honorable discharge