The Forensic Evidence Team provides support services in the form of crime scene processing, fingerprint identification, and forensic imaging to members of the police department, as well as other agencies. The goals and objectives of the Crime Scene Investigator are the collection, preservation, packaging, transportation, and documentation of physical evidence left at a crime scene.
The Forensic Evidence Team is responsible for investigating and evaluating complex crime scenes occurring inside the City of Columbia, including surrounding jurisdictions upon request. As part of their duties investigators utilize forensic equipment which aids in locating and collecting physical evidence for scientific evaluation and comparison. They also prepare detailed reports relating to their observations and activities. In addition, investigators offer testimony in court regarding their findings and processing methods.
The Forensic Evidence Team concept was introduced in 2003 following a series of murders which exhausted crime scene processing resources and personnel. The department decided to establish a formal team and the first ten members were chosen in September, 2004. The team is currently comprised of twelve members (officers / detectives), a team leader (sergeant) and team commander (Lieutenant).
Becoming a member of the Forensic Evidence team involves a formal selection process. All personnel have demonstrated strong characteristics of initiative, job interest, dedication, high availability for work, and a strong desire to conduct crime scene investigations during routine activities. Member have demonstrated an ability to work well with others and be good team members, as well as being able to handle high stress situations.
If selected, members are sent to a basic crime scene school and specialized training. Students learn a wide variety of techniques used to locate, collect, and preserve physical evidence. They are also introduced to a variety of advanced technologies, such as laser documentation, utilizing blood enhancing chemicals, alternative light source applications, and advanced photography techniques. Following the basic academy, investigators receive continuing education through in-service training and other training programs. All members join a professional crime scene organization, provide instruction to other officers and attend a minimum of one crime scene investigation seminar per year.
Crime scene investigation is both challenging and rewarding. However, forensic disciplines are constantly advancing, which requires commitment in order to stay current.
The Crime Scene Van, assigned to the investigations division, is equipped with all the necessary equipment to investigate complex scenes. The Forensic Evidence Team leader directs the usage of the van during day‑to‑day operations. All Forensic Evidence Team members are trained regarding use of the van.
Each member is also assigned, or has available, standard evidence-collection equipment.