Crime scene investigators collect evidence from incidents, such as crime or accident scenes. They should be sure to collect and retain all evidence for later reference.
These professionals collect fingerprints and palm prints left by criminals, usually by applying a powder to the surface with a brush and stamping the impression onto acetate paper using adhesive tape.
They also collect forensic evidence (often small clues), which they send to a laboratory for analysis by a forensic scientist.
These analyzes can be carried out outside the crime scene and the objects can be taken to another location, where they will be analyzed. For example, the car used by the offender can be moved to a police garage.
Crime scene investigators sometimes take fingerprint impressions of anyone who has had access to the crime scene, which serves to exclude innocent people from the investigation.
Another role of these professionals is to attend autopsies. Thus, they work in collaboration with pathologists who conduct autopsies by carefully recording and photographing any appearance that arises during the examination.
Photography plays a crucial role in this type of work, as photographic evidence taken in incident settings, which also uses digital video cameras, is used in court.
These professionals take care of the maintenance of the equipment they use. They also perform administrative tasks, such as preparing and writing reports, statements, and other documentation. They also keep meticulous records, so that other professionals can consult them when necessary. They usually use computer systems.
Evidence is carefully labeled and packaged, then stored after forensic examination to be used as evidence in court. Some are sent to a forensic scientist for analysis. Scenario investigators sometimes go to court hearings to testify.
Technology plays a primary role in criminal investigations. For example, there are special teams for:
- Identify and photograph fingerprints on documents.
- Register shoe or tire tracks.
- Collect DNA samples.
- Collect fibers from clothing and furniture.
Crime scene investigators work closely with plainclothes and uniformed police officers, as well as pathologists, forensic scientists and other members of the emergency services. They must often wear protective clothing, such as paper suits, masks, and shoe covers, so as not to contaminate the evidence.
Crime scene investigators travel extensively within their area and are sometimes required to live some distance from their workplace. They keep in touch with the central office by radio or mobile phone: if they get an urgent call when they are working, they have to reorganize.
They are usually civilian police personnel, although a small number of police forces have officers performing this work.