SAN DIEGO — The crime scene investigation efforts seen in documentary-style favorites like “Forensic Files” and “20/20” shows clue-by-clue how criminalists piece together evidence.

From bloodstain pattern analysis to witness statements and breakthroughs with DNA identification, applying forensic science principles to perform a detailed probe of physical evidence is an important job.

In San Diego County, Crime Scene Investigation (CSI) Section is the only field unit in the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department Crime Laboratory that works hand in hand with investigators on the front line, while the city of San Diego is served by the San Diego Police Department Crime Laboratory.

Criminalists, along with Forensic Evidence Technicians, are called to crime scenes to examine physical evidence in an effort to determine what may have occurred and in what order. They then document the conditions of a scene with what they deem an “accurate depiction of the locations and relationships of evidence items.”

According to the sheriff’s department, there are many techniques that can be used to document a scene. This includes things like photography, 3D laser scanning, latent prints using dusting powders, or the use of chemical enhancers to expose latent blood.

Here’s are some of the main duties of a criminalist, according to the City of San Diego:

— Performs chemical, biological, and physical analyses of blood, fibers, narcotics, and
other forms of evidence.

–Performs computer analysis on digital devices.

— Establishes identification by physical examination and comparison of firearms,
bullets, and shoe/tire impressions.

— Prepares evidence for presentation in court and testifies as an expert witness;

— Surveys and searches crime scenes to discover evidential material.

What does it take to be a criminalist in San Diego?

Due to the importance and preciseness of this field, candidates for this role are carefully selected. The sheriff’s department said CSI team members must be knowledgeable workers who are able to maintain the following interpersonal skills:

— Effective communication.

— Demonstration of ethical behavior.

— Ability to be team player.

— Have value and respect for others, and be supportive of change.

When it comes to educational stature, this high-profile career path requires some deep-rooted knowledge. To be considered, candidates must have completed a a Bachelor’s degree in Criminalistics, Forensic Science, Chemistry, Biochemistry, Microbiology, Digital Forensics, Computer Forensics, or Biology.

More details on the qualifications needed to be a criminalist in America’s Finest City can be found here.

Once a candidate is selected and becomes and actual member of the CSI team, the sheriff’s department said they then receive comprehensive training in “general scene techniques and documentation, bloodstain pattern and trajectory analysis, and crime scene reconstruction.”

Interested in learning more? The San Diego County Sheriff’s Department actually offers tours of its Crime Laboratory office on the last Thursday of every month (excluding November and December). All tour participants must be at least 16 years of age.

From robberies to murders, you can rest assured that the CSI team in San Diego is working to the break the case.