Chapter 2

Getting to Know the Forensics Team


Bullet Checking out the duties of criminalists

Bullet Looking at forensic science specialties

Bullet Understanding the medical examiner’s duties

Bullet Getting to know the forensic investigator

Bullet Offering expert testimony in court

TV forensics teams have it good: There’s a specialist for every possible field of study and a fancy piece of equipment for analyzing whatever evidence comes in. Unfortunately, that’s not the case even in larger, more sophisticated jurisdictions, much less in smaller ones where law enforcement officers or a single or very small number of criminalists perform all the required duties.

More often than not, this is due to funding shortfalls. The truth is that most crime labs are severely underfunded. This fact led author Jan Burke to create the Crime Lab Project (, a site that helps raise public awareness of this national problem.

Police typically are the first officials to arrive at any crime ...

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