A crime technician, sometimes known as an evidence recovery technician, uses advanced scientific tools to help law enforcement piece together the details of a criminal event. They objectively document evidence that will be presented in court. They may produce key details that prove the guilt or innocence of a criminal defendant. They may be employed in courts, law enforcement agencies, or as independent private detectives.
In most cases, a crime technician visits the place where the incident occurred to gather evidence that helps solve crimes. They are often called on-site to collect evidence shortly after a crime has been committed. They gather evidence such as hair, blood, or other bodily fluids that can be later tested in a laboratory for deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) analysis. A crime technician will usually take photographs to be used as evidence. Crime scenes can vary from mildly disturbing to absolutely horrific, so a crime scene technician must be willing to work professionally under any of these circumstances.
When a crime technician arrives on site, he takes steps necessary to ensure that the crime scene is undisturbed during evidence collection. He also focuses on proper legal procedures for conducting searches to ensure that the findings are admissible in court. Those in this role must also be aware of hazards such as dangerous chemicals or loaded weapons on the crime scene to protect the safety of themselves and other investigators.
The job may also entail interviews with witnesses to gather testimonial evidence of the crime as it happened. Crime technicians are very detail-oriented professionals and often ask probing questions to be sure that they get the full story. This part of the job requires excellent interpersonal skills as witnesses may be panicked, anxious, or unwilling to give answers. Interviews are often recorded on paper or on tape and will be submitted to the court along with other crime-scene evidence.
The role of the crime technician does not end once evidence is collected. Many spend most of their time in scientific laboratories, although some distribute their evidence to other professionals. Careful analysis gives meaning to what they have found. A crime scene technician must be able to work on a team with other scientists, law enforcement officers, and court personnel to put together the pieces of the criminal puzzle.
Some crime technicians work exclusively in laboratory environments analyzing evidence that has been collected by other professionals. Crime technicians are usually specially trained members of the law enforcement community and receive continuing education on the latest tools for their field of specialty. Most have at least a four-year degree in forensics, criminal justice, or a relevant scientific field. They also seek certification in law enforcement and areas of specialty such as ballistics, DNA analysis, or handwriting analysis.