Crime Scene Investigation CSI: Meaning, Definition Essay

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Crime Scene Investigation

CSI: meaning, definition and description

The literature on CSI or Crime Scene Investigation and investigators is related to various aspects of forensic science. Common definitions of CSI refer to the important fact that there are multivalent aspects to this occupation, which is often more complex that is publicly perceived. Therefore, a Crime Scene Investigator may be referred to as an ET (evidence technician), CST (crime scene technician), FI (forensic investigator), SOCO (scenes of crime officer), CSA (crime scene analyst), or CO (criminalisticts officer). (How to become a CSI) Basically, the central role of the CSI officer is to "...document, identify and collect physical evidence at a crime scene." (How to become a CSI) a general view of CSI is that is the "...meeting point of science, logic and law." (Layton)

The foundational supposition that underlies the role of the CSI is the fact that "....An extremely diverse array of materials may be located or associated with a crime scene. Each may have some potential for providing reliable forensic evidence." (Horswell and Fowler, 2004, p. 45) This view also leads to the fact that in order to maximize realization of this potential the scientist or CSI officer in contemporary forensic science laboratories usually specializes only in certain aspects or disciplines related to CSI. (Horswell & Fowler, 2004, p. 45)

CSI is therefore a term that can apply to a wide array of specialties and skills in forensic science and crime detection.

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The literature on the subject tends to emphasize the complex nature of the CSI task and notes that there is a disparity between the popular notions of the way that a CSI investigator is depicted in popular fiction and television and reality. This aspect will be further explored in this paper.

Essay on Crime Scene Investigation CSI: Meaning, Definition and Assignment

Descriptions and views of the role of the Crime Scene Investigator vary from country to country. What is common, however, is that all of these descriptions note that the CSI task involves expertise drawn from a number of different but related fields and areas of expertise. For example, one study emphasizes that among the duties of the CSI office is that he or she must have expertise in "... photography, sketching, processing for latent and patent evidence, which includes but not limited to; fingerprints, footwear impressions, trace, hair & fibers, biological fluid, including DNA potential and blood spatter pattern analysis." (How to become a CSI) a CSI investigator or investigating team must also be able to adhere to the various protocols for packaging and securing the chain of custody for the evidence collected from the scene.

CSI investigators are also required in many cases to attend the autopsy of the victim as well as to assist the pathologist in the collection of relevant data and evidence. "...the CSI must still possess a good understanding of forensic science in order to recognize the specific value of various types of evidence in the field." (Layton)

Furthermore, the CSI investigator should have excellent writing and communications skills in order to liaise between the investigators, pathologists and prosecuting attorneys. (How to become a CSI) in addition the CSI is required to be able to "...maintain their equipment, keep updated on all techniques and methodology, use deductive and inductive reasoning and perform a systematic search of the crime scene." (How to become a CSI)

Many studies emphasize the importance of the use of computer and software in CSI work in the contemporary world of crime prevention and procedures. As one study succinctly points out:

While it is sometimes necessary to physically reconstruct a crime scene and the crime itself, it has become more commonplace to use computers and software. This software is capable of analyzing many different factors. In some cases it can be used to accurately predict what occurred leading up to the committing of the crime. Computer software and technology has begun to play a very large part in the analysis of crime scenes.

The Real Life Role of a CSI)

This is also related to other technologies, such as fingerprint technology. Fingerprints can be matched by computer against a database of available suspects. Other technologies such as DNA evidence matching play a major role in the overall CSI process. However, studies also note that while technology has advanced the CSI task considerably, it is by no means as instantaneous as television and the media might suggest. (the Real Life Role of a CSI)

There are also many other disciplines and fields of expertise that form part of the CSI process. These can include the use of odontologist, who specializes in identifying a body by its teeth. (odontology) the Forensic odontolgist identifies and examines "... dental evidence from deceased individuals and compare these with records of possible victims." (Forensic Odontologist) the means that the odontologist, in conjunction with the CSI investigator or team, can determine important variables such as age and sex, as well as aspects such as social standing etc. (the Real Life Role of a CSI) an example of the type of interface between CSI and odontology is as follows.

Teeth are coated in enamel, a durable substance which is the hardest substance within the body. Because of this resilience, teeth outlast tissues and organs as decomposition begins. In the event of a mass disaster such as a fire or explosion, the examination of the teeth and comparison to dental records is often the primary method used for identification. An individual's teeth, their alignment, and the mouth's overall structure can help identify a person. An odontologist will use x-rays, dental casts, and even a photograph of the person's smile to compare the remains to the suspected victim.

Forensic Odontologist)

Another form of expertise that has proven to be invaluable in CSI work is entomology. Essentially, entomology is the study of insects and insect behavior. This area of knowledge that can be extremely useful in CSI work as the entomologist may be able "...identify the area a person was killed as well as the cause of death in some cases." (the Real Life Role of a CSI) a central part of forensic entomology relates to the "... criminal component of the legal system and deals with the necrophagous (or carrion) feeding insects that typically infest human remains." (What is Forensic Entomology?) in other words, by understanding the way that insects interact with a decaying body, the entomologist can reveal a wealth of information about time of death, possible causes etc. Pathology is also an extremely important part of the CSI process as it can determine time of death and "...often find vital evidence that may have otherwise been overlooked." (the Real Life Role of a CSI)

The difference between fiction and reality.

As has already been briefly referred to, many modern studies on the subject of CSI are careful to point it out the difference between the image of a CSI investigator that is portrayed in the popular media and the actual reality on the ground. While there are certain aspects that concur with reality it is generally the case that the media presents a somewhat biased and simplistic view of CSI.

One of the major differences is that CSI work is often very tedious and time consuming, and does not take place in a short span of time. Another aspect is that various experts have to be consulted who also have to examine the crime scene - and this can add to a lengthy process that also involves communication and liaison between a wide range of different parties and disciplines. Furthermore,

CSI work tends to be much slower and limited budgets tend restrict the availability of cutting-edge technology." (the Real Life Role of a CSI)

Central to the reality of CSI is the fact that many experts and disciplines are involved in the full assessment of the crime scene. This means that,

In addition to professionals who process DNA and fingerprints, CSI departments will usually incorporate dental experts, insect experts, pathologists and ballistics experts into their team. In some cases, forensics experts with much more specific knowledge may be brought in. All of these professionals have qualifications and experience in forensics and criminal justice.

The Real Life Role of a CS)

From a more personal perspective, the image of a CSI investigator as having a glamorous and action - filled job is largely erroneous. As one study notes;

career as a CSI of any specialty is a more mundane and routine one than you might believe. A CSI does not chase criminals; this is left to the police detectives. Crime scene investigators are responsible solely for the analysis of evidence and the construction of facts.

The Real Life Role of a CS)

This also means that the CSI investigator or investigating team has to record and document every aspect of the crime scene and are also responsible for technical aspects such as software-created reconstructions. (the Real Life Role of a CS) the type of degree that the CSI investigator needs to obtain is dependent on the different… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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Crime Scene Investigation CSI: Meaning, Definition.  (2008, September 10).  Retrieved October 29, 2020, from

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