I often get asked: What skills do I need to be a crime scene investigator?

My answer: there is no SINGLE answer to that question nor is there a SINGLE skill that is better than others.

The bottom line is no matter what the field, there are specific key qualities an individual must have to succeed:

  • commitment to assigned work
  • ability to communicate
  • willingness to learn new tasks
  • willingness to do above and beyond what is listed in job description
  • ability to grow in the position and take a leadership position when necessary
  • flexibility
  • team attitude
  • personal conduct that is in-line with the values of the agency

The list is much longer than this but I think you get the point. For this blog post, I want to discuss the last point written: personal conduct.

What is personal conduct? A simple Google search shows:

personal-conduct. Noun. (uncountable) A set of precepts that one individual tries to observe in daily life. For example, precepts of preserving human life, speaking truthfully, or being nice to people.
So what does this have to do with being a crime scene investigator?
How you conduct yourself both on the scene and off the scene really does matter. For example, there have been several instances in which LEOs or forensic professionals have been caught on camera/picture of posing with decedents, smiling while entering a home in which a triple-homicide had taken place, or laughing and joking around the scene of a drive-by shooting. Personal conduct spills into every day life. When a CSI is off duty, the same personal conduct still holds. What does it say about the forensic professional who has a social media presence that may represent him/her as being reckless or irresponsible? Social media posts that show too much of the night life or describe ongoing personal conflicts usually send the wrong message to the agency or the public.
Your personal conduct is everything! Don't compromise it, damage, or sacrifice it for a temporary event or feeling. Being a forensic professional isn't just about the skills you have. It includes the maturity you have to be responsible to the job, the forensic investigative process, victims' families, and the victim(s).
Remember that.
~Terri