Crime Scene Investigator (CSI) Career Education in South Dakota

Crime reports show that in the year 2008 at least 14,854 crimes, including 26 murders, were committed in South Dakota, a capital punishment state. Apprehending the bad guys is the main job of law enforcement, and crime scene investigators are playing an increasingly important role in this fight. In recent years advances in technology and investigative processes has caused a real advancement in the CSI profession.

The profession of crime scene investigation has many facets including finding and cataloging evidence found at the crime scene, photographing the crime scene, interviewing witnesses, and drawing sketches of suspects. The applicant must be ready for long hours of pain staking work, where attention to detail is of utmost importance.  Because CSI agents work at the scenes of crimes, the agent must also be prepared for all manner of gory scenes, including murders and violent assaults. Not only will a successful CSI agent be able to stomach such a scene, they will not allow it to affect the important work they are there to do. Also of note is that CSI agents may have a certain part of their job which involves interaction with the community, such as interviewing witnesses and taking statements.

Qualified Crime scene investigators trained in South Dakota may be employed by the departments of different law enforcement agencies in the state, especially those whose work involves carrying out thorough investigations into recent crimes. Some of these security agencies include:

  • South Dakota Division of Criminal Investigations
  • Madison Police Department
    • Investigation Unit
  • South Dakota Highway Patrol
    • Crime Scene Investigation Department
  • Rapid City Police
    • Evidence Unit

Requirements for crime scene investigator training in South Dakota

The educational requirements for training as a CSI officer in South Dakota can be rigorous. Though every department will generally set their own requirements for education, the most important aspect of the education requirements for CSI officers in South Dakota is obtaining a bachelor’s degree. This is mainly because it tends to make it easier for trainees interested in CSI training to master the techniques, atmosphere, and terminology that are common within the profession.

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Relevant Bachelor’s degrees for those training to be a CSI officer in South Dakota include:

  • Bachelor’s degree in any forensic science, such as forensic biology
  • Bachelor’s in physics or chemistry
  • Bachelor’s in criminal justice

Obtaining a degree not only shows the employer that the applicant is serious about learning all the knowledge which would be required to perform as a CSI agent. Earning a science degree will also prepare the applicant by training them in analytical thinking, problem solving, and following clues and hunches. These are the kinds of skills that make for a superior CSI agent, and hence what employers are looking for.

Significance of experience in law enforcement

The benefits of law enforcement experience include becoming familiar with law enforcement techniques and protocols, and also networking in order to know where the job openings are before everyone else. Law enforcement experience is considered as a plus when it comes to preparing for a career working as a CSI officer in South Dakota. This is because gaining experience in law enforcement offers trainees a chance to develop their skills in a practical setting.  Many employers look favorably on prior law enforcement experience, which can be seen as a “foot in the door.” However, being accepted as a police officer in South Dakota usually requires that the applicant meet strict physical, mental, and background standards. For example, the Rapid City Police Department has the following standards:

  • 21 years old
  • Associate’s Degree or 64 credit hours from an accredited institution
  • Driver’s License
  • Clean Background
  • Pass written test
  • Pass Physical test

Similarly the South Dakota Division of Criminal Investigations has height and weight requirements, seeing and hearing requirements, as well as other health and physical fitness related requirements. All of this is in addition to having to pass the testing and background check for that department as well.

Certification and Licensure

Many employers do not have any official requirements to guide the education and training of the entry level officers interested in CSI training in South Dakota. However, many employers do look favorably on certifications which can show that an applicant is serious about becoming a CSI agent. Of all the certification organizations across the country, the International Association for Identification is among the best. They offer a number of certifications including:

  • Footwear certification
  • Latent Print certification
  • Forensic Photography certification
  • Forensic Video certification

The IAI has been in operation for nearly 100 years after its founding in 1915 as an informal meeting. The IAI website is not only a treasure trove of information, but it also features job postings as well.

Forensics Salary for Lab Technicians and CSIs in STATE

Twenty-five people worked as forensic science technicians in South Dakota in 2010 according to the state’s Department of Labor & Regulation.  They projected that job growth through 2020 would be 20%.

The salaries of forensic scientists vary a great deal based on the type of position and the experience of the forensic scientist.  In Sioux Falls, forensic specialists made from $53,102 to $66,102 a year in 2013 based on a forty hour work week.  The crime lab manager in Sioux Falls made $84,157 in 2013.

Forensic Lab Technician Employment in South Dakota

City of Sioux Falls Crime Lab.  This lab employs four forensic specialists and handles a great deal of evidence.  They had over 6,700 items provided to the crime lab in 2011 alone and have been prioritizing the storage of evidence.  Long term storage is necessary, since evidence in murder cases is kept indefinitely until the crime is solved.

South Dakota Forensic Lab.  The SDFL provides forensic science services to agencies throughout South Dakota.  In 2013, the lab had twelve positions available for forensic scientists.  With the exception of the crime scene specialist, these scientists specialize in particular areas of forensic science, such as:

  • Firearms/toolmark
  • Forensic biology
  • Impression evidence
  • Trace

Crime Scene Investigator Employment in South Dakota

In addition to work as lab technicians, forensic scientists can specialize in analyzing crime scenes.  Crime scene investigators (CSIs) can be civilians or sworn officers.  In South Dakota, the CSIs tend to be civilians.

The SDFL has a mobile crime scene unit to facilitate its work around the state.  The crime scene investigator from this lab is designated as a forensic scientist II.  In Sioux Falls, the crime scene analyst is a civilian.  A civilian police evidence technician made $41,288 a year in 2013 in Sioux Falls.

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