Position Overview

For people seeking a career that is simultaneously challenging, meaningful, and exciting, becoming a Crime Scene Specialist (CSS) may be right for you. The profession has inspired a number of popular television dramas, popularized terms such as blood pattern analysis, toxicology, and firearms examination, and has inspired many people to enter this field. CSS is a critical element in the law enforcement process and serves an invaluable function to society in helping solve crimes. CSS are educated and trained investigative professionals who are well versed in the law, the criminal justice system, the documentation and recovery of physical evidence, and who provide support to the investigation of criminal cases that is often necessary to achieve a successful conviction. The field is never boring because each investigation differs from the last. Methods, technologies and laws are constantly changing, which helps to keep the job interesting.

While becoming a CSS can be an exciting career move, it is important to evaluate the pros and cons of this type of work environment. It is essential for all applicants to carefully consider both the positive aspects and benefits of the position as well as some of its less attractive features before deciding to test for the position.


The Crime Scene Specialist conducts technical investigations of all types of crime scenes; duties include photography and the collection, examination and preservation of evidence.

Important Note: The Crime Scene Specialist position encompasses 24/7 shift that often require new employees to work weekends, holidays and at night/overnight.

Performs duties and responsibilities commensurate with assigned functional area which may include, but are not limited to, any combination of the following tasks:

  • Visually and physically examines and investigates all types of crime scenes for the recognition, collection and preservation of physical evidence such as latent fingerprints, shoe prints and tire tracks, body fluids (blood, semen and saliva), hair and fibers, weapons and other materials in sometimes stressful and unpleasant environments.
  • Recovers, unloads and impounds firearms and other weapons using sound safety precautions.
  • Measures, makes mathematical calculations and diagrams crime scenes.
  • Prepares and utilizes presumptive tests, various chemicals, powders, compounds and casting materials used in a forensic laboratory, and preserving techniques as required.
  • Photographs various types of crime scenes and evidence as well as postmortem examinations.
  • Utilizes specialized equipment and procedures to determine the presence of blood and seminal fluid and to collect body fluids, hair, fibers, gunshot residue and other trace evidence and materials.
  • Dusts for and completes lifts for fingerprints; casts shoe impressions and other evidence preserving techniques as required.
  • Conducts interviews to gain relevant information for crime scene investigation; prepares detailed crime scene reports.
  • May be required to testify in court in connection to scenes processed and evidence collected and preserved.
  • May assist Patrol Officers and Police Aides at traffic accident scenes; assist in traffic direction as needed.
  • May provide specialized field training in Unit, Division and Police Department policies and procedures to newly hired Crime Scene Specialist.
  • May provide training in crime scene preservation to Patrol Officers, Police Aides and citizens.
  • May render an opinion and draw conclusions utilizing skills in a respective sub-discipline such as footwear comparisons, bloodstain pattern interpretation and bullet trajectory paths.
  • Performs other duties as assigned.

Working Environment

  • Required to wear a uniform and follow department policies regarding hairstyles, facial hair (no beards), visible tattoos and/or body piercings, and jewelry for uniformed personnel.
  • Not guaranteed daily lunch/dinner or breaks, or you may have to leave from a lunch/dinner or break to handle calls for service.
  • Wear personal protective gear, including gloves, bio-hazard suits, booties, hats and protective masks, either separately or together, for extended periods of time in all weather conditions.
  • Possible exposure to blood borne pathogens, such as HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis B and C, and/or other diseases, such as Tuberculosis, or MRSA (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus Aureus).
  • Work at scenes that could be highly emotional and traumatic for investigators and/or the victims: sex crimes; homicides; police shootings; etc., any of which could include infants, children, or vulnerable adults as victims.
  • Handle and move deceased persons, in various stages of decomposition.
  • Handle containers with unknown and potentially hazardous substances.
  • Work for extended periods of time in extreme weather conditions, such as high heat and severe rainstorms.
  • Climb onto building rooftops, into small, confined spaces, or into areas with limited or no lighting and be required to spend extended periods of time in these areas.
  • During training, employees will be under constant supervision by a trainer who will provide daily feedback, positive remarks, and criticism as needed. This same individual will eventually become your co-worker.

Work Schedule

  • The profession requires working staggering schedules that include day, evening, night and weekend shifts because crime can occur at any time. Shifts consist of four (4) 10-hour days. Shifts are selected annually and based on seniority. Shifts may be changed, with advanced notice, to accommodate the needs of the Department. There are no guarantees that you will be on the same shift year after year.
  • Depending on your scheduled shift, you may work holidays.
  • You may be called during your days off to come in to work. In the rarest of instances you can be ordered into work, regardless of what you have planned that day.
  • Be required to work overtime hours in order to complete a crime scene, or as needed by the supervisor. This can include being called in early or asked to stay late.
  • You may have no choice which shift you are assigned to, especially during your training.
  • You will be assigned a shift schedule that may include working holidays and weekends. You must be able to arrange transportation and/or childcare to accommodate your assigned schedule.

Daily Contacts

  • Be aware that you are a civilian (non-sworn) police employee; you are not authorized to carry a gun on-duty, and that citizens, including suspects, may mistake you for a sworn officer, due to the fact that you wear a uniform and drive a marked police vehicle, which may increase the risk of your own personal safety.
  • Make contact with victims of crimes who may be angry, upset, or irrational, or mentally disturbed.
  • Have to make quick decisions where a person/s safety is at stake.

If this is a position you are interested in, know that there are many satisfying and rewarding aspects of the position and CSS personnel make significant contributions to the investigation of crimes in the City of Scottsdale.

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