What Does A Forensic Science Technician Do?

"While I want to work in the fast-paced world of law enforcement, I really don’t want to have to be the one chasing after criminals. Rather, I want to be the one collecting evidence and testing them in the laboratory to help determine who the culprit is. I was told this job sounds like what forensic lab technicians do so I want to learn more about it. What do forensic lab technicians do?"

asked by Rebecca D. from Baltimore, Maryland

Forensic science technicians are professionals who gather and scrutinize physical evidence in a crime scene to help solve a case. Although they are mostly confined in laboratories where they do their work, forensic technicians also need to visit the crime scene. They determine the kind of evidence that can be collected and the means by which it should be gathered.

They keenly observe the area and record such vital information as where the evidence was taken from and what its position is relative to other elements in the scene before gathering and storing the evidence for further analysis in the laboratory. They may also photograph and do sketches of the crime scene to make certain that they capture it before it is changed in any way.

In the laboratory, forensic science technicians then perform an analysis of the evidence obtained from the crime scene. This is done by subjecting the items gathered to physical, biological or chemical methods of analysis. Using laboratory equipment and even computers, they strive to find matches to fingerprints or DNAs gathered at the scene of the crime.

Firearms, cars and other things used to commit a crime are subjected to intense records-matching to find out who owns them based on available records. Through these analyses, the list of potential suspects is further narrowed or one may even get clearly identified.

There are times when the evidence gathered only serves to confuse forensic science technicians. When these episodes happen, they turn to other experts to shed light on the matter. They may collaborate with toxicologists to determine what the effect of a poisonous substance is on the body or with odontologists if they want to find out anything about a crime victim’s teeth.

Based on what they have gathered from the crime scene and the analyses they have made of the pieces of evidence there, forensic science technicians can then reconstruct the sequence of events leading to the commission of the crime. This is particularly important especially when they are called upon by the court to testify as expert witnesses when trial begins. Prosecutors even tap on their scientific and technical knowledge to build a case in some instances.

Forensic science technicians wrap up their analysis of evidence by writing a report about it. Often, the report emphasizes vital information that could help investigators finally conclude their investigation and pin down a suspect.

If the court calls upon forensic lab technicians to testify about a particular case, the contents in the report are going to serve as a very important document. Forensic science technicians should see to it that their report is detailed, specific and complete.

Career Spotlight: Forensic Science Technician

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