Rapid City is home to one of the major Crime Scene Investigation (CSI) units in the state of South Dakota. The primary area served by the Rapid City Police Department Evidence Unit is the city of Rapid City (pop.69,854) and surrounding Pennington County (pop. 104,307), but it also provides services to the rest of the state when needed.
In an average year, Pennington County experiences 3,184 crimes, including a small number of murders and rapes. It is the responsibility of the Rapid City Police Department’s Evidence Unit to collect evidence from violent crimes and thefts.
Despite South Dakota’s reputation as a peaceful, rural area, there have been quite a few notable cases involving forensic laboratory science and crime scene investigations:
- 1982: A man was found dead outside of the town of Deadwood. The reason for his death was determined to be from repeated blows to the head with a heavy, jagged object. Forensic Scientists identified the weapon as a rock and were able to lift fingerprints from the victim’s car door and a cigarette butt found at the scene of the crime. The crime went unsolved until the fingerprint turned up a hit in 2004.
- 1997: CSI tracked down a kidnapping suspect by the name of Robert LeVoy Anderson. Multiple evidence types were used to connect him to a missing persons case, including fingerprints, DNA, follicle and fiber identifications and tire tread marks. It was later found that he was responsible for at least two other missing persons cases, which included rape and murder.
How to Become a Crime Scene Investigator or Forensic Laboratory Scientist in Rapid City
In order to be considered for a position with the Rapid City Police Department Evidence Unit, an applicant must meet basic requirements and qualifications:
Degrees – While a college degree is not required for all entry-level positions, it is usually recommended. A person with a degree will receive priority over other applicants. Rapid City offers both campus-based schooling as well as online schooling in order to get a degree related to Forensic Science. Typical degrees include the following:
- Bachelors Degree in Forensic Science or Forensic Biology
- Bachelors Degree in Criminal Justice – Forensic Science Concentration
- Bachelors Degree in Physics or Chemistry
Prior Experience – It is also recommended that applicants have previous experience in the fields of criminal justice and science. The experience can be as part of a job or as an internship or a volunteer.
Certification – Certification is not always needed in order to be considered, but it will give a person a leg-up in a competitive field. Certification can be obtained on a state, national or international level. One of the most respected Forensic Science CSI certifiers is the International Association for Identification.
Other Requirements – Applicants must also be at least 21 years old and be able to pass a criminal background check, a written examination and a physical examination prior to employment.
Forensic Laboratory Science and Crime Scene Investigator Jobs in Rapid City
The Rapid City Police Department Evidence section is separated into various departments that are responsible for different types of evidence identification techniques:
- Latent Fingerprint Analysis: Chemical processing and powder techniques are used to get latent fingerprints and compare them with records.
- Fingerprint Databases: This department is responsible for documenting fingerprints and running them through national and international databases for identification.
- Toxicology and Analysis: This department uses samples in order to find drug and alcohol levels that are connected to a variety of crimes.
- Digital Multimedia Evidence: This department is made up of experts who specialize in digital photography and video forensics. They also work with evidence that is connected to personal computers and other devices that may have been used in connection with a crime.