Transcription

CAREERS IN FORENSIC SCIENCE

OVERVIEWWHAT IS FORENSIC SCIENCETHE FORENSIC LABORATORYSAMPLE CAREERS IN FORENSICS FIELDSearch TechnologistForensic BiologistForensic ChemistForensic ToxicologistForensic Document ExaminerFirearms and Toolmark ExaminerForensic PathologistForensic OdontologistForensic AnthropologistForensic PsychologistForensic BotanistWHO EMPLOYS FORENSICS GRADUATESPROGRAM RELATED SKILLSPOSSIBLE CAREER PATHSSAMPLE JOB LISTINGS FOR GRADUATING/RECENT GRADUATESHOW CAN THE CAREER CENTRE HELPLibrary ResourcesAppointmentsCareer Planning by YearThe National Occupations Code BinderTip Sheets

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WHAT IS FORENSIC SCIENCE?Forensic science, or forensics, is concerned with gathering and analyzing the evidence from acriminal case with the purpose of revealing the truth. By analyzing fingerprints, footprints,blood spatter, traces and remains, forensic scientists seek to reveal the identities of criminals,as well as the complete facts related to criminal events.Forensic science degrees rely on other sciences like medicine, physics, engineering, computerscience, psychology and many other. Forensics specialists form interdisciplinary teams ofexperts and go through complex scientific processes to piece together the complete picture of acrime scene.Forensic science also induces more specialized sub-fields, sometimes offered as stand-alonedegree programs in forensic medicine, forensic anthropology, drug analysis, toxicology,entomology, environmental forensics, biological evidence, forensic DNA analysis, and more.Students who want to pursue a Master’s degree in forensic science will benefit from practical;classes and lab work, and gain valuable skills that will help them investigate facts such asanalytical and critical thinking, computer training and scientific writing.Forensic science degree allows graduates to investigate and solve crimes. Forensic science –often called forensics is gathering of evidence and details of a crime. A forensic scientist mustalso research and present found evidence to others involved in criminal cases, such asdetectives and lawyers. The responsibilities of a forensic scientists include documentingevidence from a crime scene through photos, videos and notes, studying physical evidencefrom the crime scene.There are several career options in the area of forensic science. Some of these positions areonly available to sworn police officers, but many others are open to civilians. Many positionsare full-time, while others are consultant positions. Forensic science careers exist in severalareas including:1. The Forensic Lab. There are several forensic laboratories across Canada which employ civilianscientists to analyze evidence recovered from a crime scene.

2. Crime Scene Investigation. Crime scenes are analyzed by police officers in Canada, notcivilians. These officers are highly trained and specialized Identification officers whose sole dutyis to investigate and process crime scenes.3. Death Scenes in general. Death scenes, with few exceptions, are attended by Coroners,Medical Examiners, or their trained death investigators, depending on province. These peopleare civilians and work for their individual province, acting as an ombudsperson for the dead. Ifthe death is suspicious, it is also attended and the scene processed by Identification (police)Officers.4. Forensic Pathology. Forensic pathologists are specialized medical doctors who analyze thebody, performing autopsies and determining such factors as cause of death.5. Other Forensic Specialists. There are many other forensic specialists including forensicanthropologists, entomologists, odontologists, engineers, botanists, artists, nurses,psychologists, psychiatrists, profilers and wildlife specialists, to name just a few.THE FORENSICS LABORATORYThere are several forensic laboratories in Canada. These include Police Labs such as the RoyalCanadian Mounted Police (RCMP) National Forensic Laboratory Service (NFLS), and Provinciallabs, such as those found in Quebec and Ontario, and some private labs. Scientists who work inthese labs and testify as expert witnesses in court, explaining their forensic biology, forensicchemistry, questioned documents and firearms and tool mark examination.The RCMP NFLS is responsible for conducting analyses and examinations of physical evidence inconnection with police investigations anywhere in Canada. Its services are primarily available topolice agencies, courts and government agencies in most provinces. NFLS consists ofapproximately 380 forensic scientists, technologists and administrative personnel. Based on theresults of their work, members of the Forensic Laboratory Services issue case reports andprovide expert forensic testimony to the courts. In certain cases, the laboratory staff can – onrequest – provide advice and opinion to interpret evidence in situations where a hypotheticalscenario may have been established. The Forensic Laboratory Service complements the work of

the National DNA Data Bank which is responsible specifically for the analysis of convictedoffender samples and the maintenance of the Convicted Offender.Website: - ational-forensic-laboratoryservicesThe Forensic Laboratory Services employs civilian staff as specialists and technologists inpositions requiring various levels of post-secondary academic training and experience. Moreinformation of the RCMP and the Forensic Laboratory Services is available at www.rcmp-grc.ca.The Provinces of Ontario and Québec each have their own laboratory systems. In Ontario, theCentre of Forensic Sciences (CFS) is managed by the Ontario Ministry of Community Safety andCorrectional Services and supports the administration of justice and public safety programsacross the province. The CFS operates in two locations: the central laboratory, located inToronto, and a smaller regional laboratory in Sault Ste. Marie. The two laboratories conductscientific investigations in cases involving injury or death in unusual circumstances, and incrimes against persons or property. This service is provided to law enforcement officers, crownattorneys, defense counsel, coroners, pathologists, and other official investigative agencies incriminal cases, and to counsel in some civil cases. More detailed information can be obtainedon-line at:http://www.mcscs.jus.gov.on.ca/english/centre forensic/CFS intro.htmlSAMPLE CAREERS IN FORENSICS FIELDAt a GlanceSEARCH TECHNOLOGISTA technologist specialized in Evidence Recovery (such as a Search Technologist) typically will spend mostof his/her day at the bench, performing the identification and recovery of specific biological evidence,such as semen, blood, saliva, hair, and trace DNA, as well as non-biological trace evidence, such as fibers,as the case may dictate.

As primary examiners in the forensics process, STs hold a great deal of responsibility in that theirexaminations and decisions in a case will have a great effect in the subsequent analysis and interpretationof the evidence. Search technologists are required to keep an accurate description of their examinationsand results, and are also responsible for the continuity of the evidence they examine. They also regularlyinteract with other members of the laboratory in order to obtain the necessary information to proceedwith an examination or to obtain the assistance needed to perform a specialized analysis. Searchtechnologists are primarily “bench scientists”, but on rare occasions are called out to assist in theexamination of crime scenes where they mainly act in an advisory role to police investigationsWork lifeSearch technologists are trained to be able to identify body fluids such as semen and blood for exampleby performing a series of biochemical and microscopic tests that can either indicate the presence of abody fluid or can positively identify the target body fluid.A solid foundation in the biological sciences and chemistry are a must for an Evidence Recovery searchtechnologist. Since the bulk of the forensic examinations involves the use of various specializedmicroscopes, microscopy is also an essential skill required in evidence recovery. Equally as important tothe job is the ability to analyze challenging situations and to make critical decisions, good communicationand organizational skills are also key elements of the position.Education and Further trainingProspective understudies must have a minimum of a three-year technical diploma from a recognizedinstitute in one of the following: biology, biochemistry, chemistry and medical laboratory science. A fouryear Bachelor of Science degree is strongly encouraged to allow for future career progression aspirations.Search technologists undergo an understudy program upon engagement, consisting of an extensivereview of scientific literature dealing in all aspects of evidence search, identification and recovery. Theyare also required to work under the supervision of qualified senior examiners in the examination ofongoing investigations, where they can acquire all the skills necessary to properly search evidentiarymaterial.Career Opportunities as a Search Technologist

In the RCMP NFLS, search technologists can be cross-trained as Biology Analysts, technologists whoperform the analysis of a biological samples in order to develop DNA profiles. This would require aminimum of a B.Sc. degree.They can also aspire to become forensic specialists, such as Biology Reporting Scientists (four year B.Sc.minimum). Specialists receive further training that allows them to be able to interpret forensic evidenceand any results gathered from its examination. Biology Reporting Scientists are highly trained individualswhose main role is to evaluate, compare and interpret the DNA profiles obtained after analysis iscomplete. They are responsible for writing forensic reports that outline both the results of biologicalevidence, and their significance.Further informationFor more information on a career in forensic science, and more specifically Evidence Recovery and theRCMP National Forensic Laboratory Services, please g.htmFORENSIC BIOLOGYAt a GlanceForensic Biology involves the examination of exhibit material to recover sources of DNA for subsequentDNA profiling. There is a three-way division of labour in Biology Services in the RCMP:1. Evidence Recovery (searching of exhibits)2. Biology Analytical 9extraction, quantification, amplification of DNA)3. Biology reporting (application of DNA profiling software, comparison of generated profiles andstatistical interpretation of any matches obtained).Work lifeIn Biology, assault cases are the majority of cases that are examined. They sub-classify into the variousdegrees of sexual and aggravated assault and the most ultimate of assaults: homicide. With theintroduction of Bill C-13, virtually all types of property crimes will now also be examined. Again, differentlabs may use different terminology and titles, although the job itself remains the same.Education and further training

Forensic biologists are usually either technologists or specialists. The basic requirement for entry leveltechnologist positions in Biology (evidence recovery and biology analytical) is a three year diploma froma technical institute such as British Coloumbia Institute of Technology (BCIT) but the reality is thatindividuals with Bachelor and Master Degrees are constantly applying. Any sort of experience withmolecular biology is an asset.In addition to any scientific training, ideal candidates must have excellent written and, especially, oralcommunication skills as a large proportion of our services deal with the education of the Court andInvestigators in the analyses that we perform. A forensic scientist must be able to effectively explaincomplex technical terms and concepts in layman’s terms without boring their audience. This cannot beoveremphasized for all forensic scientists, and indeed, for most scientists. It is vital to be able tocommunicate your science to people who are not trained in these fields, such as the jury. Even if a personis a brilliant scientist, if they cannot communicate their information in a clear and understandable fashion,then they cannot be a forensic scientist. Any courses and experiences that increase a person’s verbal andwritten skills.Career Opportunities in BiologyIn Biology Services, the available careers range from General Duty Technologist to Biology Analyst.Management level positions usually arise as a result of retirement or relocation but once an individualreaches this level, they become more of an administrator than a scientist. The Biology discipline does havea Program Technical Leader to deal with scientific issues and a Program Manager to deal withadministrative issues. Field work is extremely rare and usually long after (months and even years) thecrime has occurred. Forensic biologists do not ‘wax poetic’ with a Pathologist over a corpse in the morgueas seen on television, but rather are bench scientists working in laboratories. The hours are typicallyMonday to Friday, 8 hours per day.Further information Association of Forensic DNA Analysts and Administrators: http://www.afdaa.org/ Short Tandem Repeat DNA: http://www.cstl.nist.gov/biotech/strbase/index.htm The Forensics Library: http://aboutforensics.co.uk/dna-analysis/ A Simplified Guide to DNA Evidence: tml Investigating Forensics, Simon Fraser University Museum:http://www.sfu.museum/forensics/eng/pg media-media pg/adn-dna/

FORENSIC CHEMISTRYAt a GlanceForensic chemistry in Canada refers to the chemical analysis of materials in support of the JusticeSystem. This includes the analysis of fiber debris for ignitable liquids. Gun Shot Residue (GSR),paint, glass, fibers, explosives and the identification of unknown materials.Forensic chemists analyze any trace evidence that is not a body fluid. They examine all sorts ofmaterials which are found in our everyday life. These are normal, everyday products which wedon’t normally think of in relation to crimes. But crimes occur in everyday places such as houses,offices, gardens and sidewalks. So, these everyday materials are frequently of interest at a crimescene due to the potential transfer from offender to victim and victim to offender.Work lifeForensic chemists spend much of their time at a lab bench examining case items for materialswhich are then compared physically and chemically to materials collected form another locationto determine whether or not they have originated from the same source. Court testimony is acritical part of the job of a forensic chemist even though a small percentage of the time is spentthis way. In an emergency, a scientist may be called upon to assist with a scene or provide adviceto an investigator, this is very rare and for the most part the hours are normal working hours.Education and Further trainingThe minimum education requirement is an honors B.Sc. in a natural science though the majority of thescientists have graduate degrees. Most of these will be degrees specializing in chemistry, or having a verystrong chemistry component. Once a person is hired by a forensic laboratory, they then undergo in-housetraining which typically lasts 12 to 18 months. This training is a combination of technical, court, policy andevidence handling training. During this time period the trainee will work on cases under the supervisionof an experienced examiner. This allows the trainee to gain experience in all aspects of casework.Further information

Openings in the field of forensic chemistry are limited. There are fewer than one hundred positions in allof Canada. Centre of Forensic /CFSChemistry.html RCMP: g.htm Laboratoire de sciences judiciaries et de medicine ratoire/services-expertises/chimiejudiciaire.html Chemistry Explained – Forensic Chemistry: emistry.htmlFORENSIC TOXICOLOGYAt a GlanceForensic toxicology is quite different from forensic chemistry. Whereas a forensic chemists performschemical analysis of a myriad of everyday materials, forensic toxicologists concentrate on the chemicalsfound in body fluids and tissues, primarily drugs, alcohol and poisons but many also deal with chemicalsrelated to the making and using of drugs. Forensic toxicologists also provide an interpretation of thesefindings for investigatory and court purposes.Work LifeA forensic toxicologist can find himself or herself involved in a wide variety of cases from unexplaineddeaths to impaired driving to homicide. Much of the time, laboratory work deals with postmortemtoxicology and helping to unravel a cause of death but forensic toxicologists are often called to docasework that deals with the effects of drugs on living individuals. In fact, some of the most complex andinteresting cases and analyses don’t involve deaths but deal with a drug ability to incapacitate victims toalter their behavior. Because of the great diversity of work in the area of forensic toxicology there areseveral different laboratories where a person may find employment.On any given day, the toxicologist will employ their skills to determine the type of analysis that is requiredin a case, what samples to use in that analysis and how to interpret the findings in a manner in which boththe lay public (police, jurors etc.) and professionals (coroners, pathologists etc.) can understand. Theforensic toxicologist will also be expected to attend court to give evidence on a regular basis. This part of

the career is that of the expert witness and as such the toxicologist may often be called to give opinionson evidence that they did not produce. Forensic toxicology labs doing criminal casework offer expertwitness will always support the police services in their jurisdiction with expert testimony and reportsbased on their laboratory findings.Education and further trainingForensic toxicology scientists are minimally required to have a B.Sc. (Hons) in an academic discipline suchas toxicology, pharmacology, physiology, chemistry or biochemistry. Many toxicologists, however havetraining at a graduate level (M.Sc. or Ph.D.) and such training is often an asset since toxicology is aconstantly and rapidly changing area that frequently requires research skills that have been acquiredduring graduate work. Most of the laboratories will have an in-house training program that will varyaccording to the guidelines of the jurisdiction. It is no unusual to have at-least a two-year training periodduring which time the trainee will be familiarized with analytical instruments or procedures used to screenfor, identify and measure drug concentrations in body tissues and fluids as well as in non-biologicalmaterial.Further information Internal Association of Forensic Toxicologist: http://www.tiaft.org// American Board of Forensic Toxicology: http://www.abft.org/ Society of Forensic Toxicologists: http://www.soft-tox.org/At a GlanceFORENSIC DOCUMENT EXAMINERDocuments from all manners of personal, business, government, academic and other affairs may bedisputed or questioned. Attempting to answer such questions from the scientific examination ofdocuments is the work conducted by questioned document examiners.The work of these document examiners is varied and requires knowledge of many aspects of howdocuments are made, what materials they are made with, and how documents are made, what materialsthey are made with, and how documents may be subjected to changes by physical and/or chemical means.Not only must these examiners have knowledge of such matters. Essentially any instrument or materialused in the preparation of documents may play a part of an examination at a much later time.

Work LifeCases submitted to the document examiner vary in size from a single sheet of paper to large files withupwards of thousands of documents. The questions posed may only involve one type of examination orbe a complex web of multi-faceted analysis that requires detailed interpretation.Report writing and communication of the methods use, observations, conclusion and evidence continuityis very important. This communication extends to explanations to lawyers, investigators, auditors,compliance personnel, judges, court clerks and registers whether in written or spoken form. It is vital thatscientific and technical terms be explained in language that ma y be understood by non-specialist.Forensic document examiners conduct most work in a laboratory setting. The laboratory will beequipped with a variety of optical, chemical, and electrical instrumentation depending on the types ofexaminations conducted. Most working conditions will be in comfortable laboratory conditions exceptfor some submitted documents which may require special handling procedures due to contamination,fragile state, or physical size. For some cases, work is conducted "in the field", this may involve theexamination of documents and/or devices that may have produced documents that cannot be sent tothe laboratory due to legal or technical reasons. For these instances, some portable laboratoryequipment is taken to the site.The following are examples of some of the common questions which are posed to forensic documentexaminers.1. Signature verification, was the signature written by the person who was supposed to havewritten it?2. Who wrote the handwritten/hand printed entries on the documents?3. Did a particular office machine produce a questioned document?4. Is the date on the questioned document plausible?5. Is the date on the questioned document plausible?Many different types of documents may be disputed, listed below are some examples: Economic investigations and/or civil matters documents Illegal correspondence Employment and labour laws School documents

Identity and vital statistics Medical documents Insurance fraud Historical questions Accident investigation and reconstruction Human rights and international criminal lawEducation and further trainingThe minimum educational requirements for an FDE in government laboratories is an undergraduatedegree typically in science. Once hired, further training in document examination is undertaken throughan apprenticeship style of program under the guidance of at least one fully trained, senior FDE. It requiresa minimum of two years of full time training under such a program to become qualified in governmentagencies or as a qualified private document examiner. Training programs are increasing in length due tothe changes in technology and further research into the traditional aspects of document examination.Currently there is no recognized program at a university that will provide all of the basic training requiredto substitute for an apprenticeship.Forensic document examiners apply the theory and practice of the scientific training received in theirundergraduate education, e.g. chemistry, mathematics, biology, physics, psychology, computer science,etc. to their analyses. Furthermore, the multi-disciplinary nature of document examination necessitateslearning about other sciences and consulting with other scientists who have specialized knowledgewhich may assist in answering some questioned document problems. Document examination is a fulltime occupation and requires a willingness to learn and apply such knowledge to cases. It also requires awillingness to consider research when needed to solve problems. As well, excellent visual skills arerequired, with form differentiation and colour deficiency tests conducted on prospective candidates fortraining.Further information American Society of questioned documents examiners: http://www.asqde.org/ American Board of questioned documents examiners: http://abfde.org/ American Academy of Forensic sciences (questioned document section): http://www.aafs.org Chartered society of forensic science (CSOFS): http://www.csofs.org/

FIREARMS AND TOOLMARK EXAMINERAt a GlanceA firearms and tool mark examiner’s primary work involves using an optical comparison microscope tomatch striated and/or impressed ‘tool marks’ found on fired bullets and cartridge cases. This aspect ispatterns matching based on established scientific principles. IN the past several years a technique knownas Quantitative Consecutive Matching Striations (QCMS) has been developed wherein the examiners‘count’ the consecutive lines found. Some examiners use both pattern matching and QCMS as part of theirexamination.Some serious criminal cases also involve an estimation of the distance of a firearm from a target based onthe discharge residues at the projectile holes and based on the damage created in the target. Theseexaminations can require visual, microscopic and various chemical tests.Often the target materials are garments and sometimes human skin. Attendance at autopsies or majorcrime scenes is also a necessary but somewhat infrequent part of the job.Work LifeCommonly, firearms and tool mark examiners work a 40-hour work week with weekends off. Exceptionsoccur occasionally when court, training, conference travel or special projects require additional timeswhich is usually compensated with overtime pay or reschedules time off. Most of the typical work day willbe spend on a specific case that the examiners is completing. Making notes and photos about the exhibits,test firing guns to recover test bullets or cartridge cases and visual or microscopic examinations consumesmuch of the day. Writing to report, entering statistical and exhibit transfer information into a computeras well as preparing exhibits for return to the investigators and prosecutors about specific exhibits, casesor court dates also consumed some portions of the day.Education and further trainingCandidates for this discipline are required to have a four-year science degree with university level coursesin Chemistry and Physics. Some candidates also have engineering backgrounds. Certain skills (as listedbelow) are necessary for this profession. The candidate is likely to be asked about them in a hiring

interview and may be required to demonstrate some of them in practical exercises during a technicalassessment for hiring. The science degree only provides the basis for the specialized training. The trainingprovided by the employer is apprentice-like and under the tutelage of experienced examiners. It involveswriting a series of researched papers on topics related to the job, practical exercises, written and/or oralexams and mock trials. This training is usually given in modules with some being prerequisites for others.The training period can be up to two years in length depending on the student and his or her previousknowledge of firearms.Further informationThe primary professional association which connects Firearm and Tool mark Examiners around the worldis ‘The Association of Firearm and Tool Mark Examiners’ (AFTE). AFTE is a professional scientific associationwith a website at www.afte.org. AFTE publishes an indexed and peer-reviewed journal quarterly and hasa yearly training seminar style conference either in the United States or Canada. Much of the AFTE site isavailable only to members.Firearms ID at www.firearmsid.com has a high quality virtual comparison microscope with exercises inmatching of bullets and cartridge cases that can be completed by anyone, although some portions of thesite are only available to law enforcement personnel. This site also provides a wealth of informationconcerning firearms examinations as well as 3D images of firearms.FORENSIC PATHOLOGISTAt a GlanceForensic pathology is a challenging and rewarding career involving the application of medical science tolegal problems. Forensic pathologists are physicians with particular expertise in injury interpretation anddeath investigation, including determination of cause and manner of death. They are trained toinvestigate sudden unexpected deaths and frequently perform autopsy examinations which make up themajority of their workload. They are also called upon to give expert testimony in court. Less commonly,they may be consulted in evaluation of living patients to assist in interpretation of injury patterns, e.g.motor vehicle collisions, or suspected child abuse.

Finally, FPs make valuable contributions to public safety, e.g. identifying unsuspected life threateningcommunicable diseases, and providing information regarding motor vehicle safety and electrical orchoking hazards. This field uniquely combines medical expertise and direct anatomical observation in thediagnosis of disease with documentation and interpretation of intoxication and injury arising from a broadrange of human activity and behaviour.Work lifeWithin the field of pathology, there are several subspecialty areas, including: Anatomical pathology Medical biochemistry Medical microbiology HematopathologyMany pathologists practice in more than one of these areas (i.e. general pathologists). Forensic pathologyis generally considered to be a subspecialty in anatomical pathology (involving the direct visualexamination of body fluids, tissues and organs). However, FPs frequently draw from expertise in morethan one of these specialty areas in the investigation of a particular case.Education and trainingAll FPs will have completed medical school (usually four years) and an additional postgraduate trainingprogram in Laboratory Medicine (five more years). After this, specific expertise in forensic pathology isobtained through a (usually) one-year fellowship, during which the pathologist participates directly indeath investigation, performing forensic autopsies an

Other Forensic Specialists. There are many other forensic specialists including forensic anthropologists, entomologists, odontologists, engineers, botanists, artists, nurses, . virtually all types of property crimes will now also be examined. Again, different labs may use different terminology and titles, although the job itself remains the .