A crime scene examiner, also known as a crime scene investigator, is responsible for gathering and protecting the evidence from a crime scene. He or she is usually one of the first responders on the scene. After the crime scene photographer has finished taking the necessary pictures, the investigative team is the next group onto the crime scene.
The main duty of a crime scene examiner is to gather evidence. This can be a very complicated task, depending on the crime scene. It may involve making casts of footprints, gathering fingerprints and locating trace evidence, such as hairs, fibers or bits of paint. An examiner will also collect evidence relating to fire arms, or guns, such as shell casings, powder patterns and bullet fragments. Biological evidence, such as blood, semen, nail scrapings and other evidence left by the humans involved, will also be carefully gathered as evidence.
Crime scene examiners have received a lot of specialized training to be able to do their jobs correctly. They need to know how to use all of the tools necessary for analyzing a crime scene. If examiners use the tools incorrectly, they run the chance of ruining important evidence that could have been used to solve the case. Investigators need to know more than just how to use the equipment, however; they also need to know how to properly clean and store it, so that the equipment is ready for when it is next needed.
Depending on the number of investigators in a police department, a crime scene examiner may be on call at any time of the day and night. Examiners also have regular work hours, during which they do any office work and attend to current crime scenes. A crime scene examiner may often be faced with disturbing crime scenes, and may often need a strong stomach. Being able to look at the whole crime scene, and then be able to break it down into parts, is a necessary skill for examiners to have. Examiners should also be able to do heavy lifting as well as more delicate work with equal amounts of skill.
A crime scene examiner works in a very exciting career field where no two days are ever the same. Especially in more urban areas, where crime is more prominent, there is never a shortage of interesting cases to work. The work can often be challenging, and requires a lot of technical knowledge, but it is a great career choice for individuals who love science and are interested in pursuing a criminal justice degree.