PHOTO:  Cape Coral Police Department Forensics Personnel process a crime scene.  Here, it is a serious injury crash bring photographed by Forensics personnel.  (Photo Courtesy of Cape Coral Police Department)

PHOTO:  Cape Coral Police Department Forensics Personnel process a crime scene.  Here, it is a serious injury crash bring photographed by Forensics personnel.  (Photo Courtesy of Cape Coral Police Department)

Angela Yodice Writes:

"I have always wanted to enter into the forensics field, specifically as a crime scene investigator.. I also have a great desire for forensic photography/crime scene photography. I have a heavy background in photography, and currently own my own studio... I'm wondering if, at 38, it may be too late to pursue this line of work...what are the recommended steps in setting this path in motion? I already have both an AAS and BS but neither are in Criminal Justice...I also have heard that I do not have to attend the police academy to enter into the forensics field and that certification is probably all I need to get started. Is this true? Where do you recommend I begin my search? What are the job opening prospects like if I do decide to make a career change? Thank you for your time!"

Thank you Angela for the great questions.  With show like CSI, Law and Order, and Criminal Minds, we find that interest in the field of Forensics has exploded.  We decided to go straight to the source for the answer to this question.  We asked Lawrence Stringham, or Forensic Supervisor to chime in.  Here is what he had to say:

"Thank you for your interest in the Cape Coral Police Department and the world of Forensics.  Like you, I also love this career field and I have been asked those same questions at least once a week, for the last ten years.  You really have asked two separate questions: What is the Cape Coral Police Department qualifications to become a Forensic Technician, and what are the rest of the State’s requirements? 

Well, since that you have experience in photography and have some type of formal education, that helps here with the Cape Coral Police Department hiring guidelines.  The minimum requirements are: a valid drivers license, a high school diploma and you must be at least 18 years of age.  Now those are the minimum requirements.  Most applicants have at least some type of college degree be it an Associate's or Bachelor's, with a concentration in Forensics or Criminal Justice.  The State’s requirements are very difficult and I would ask that you go to their web site for their minimums, but other agencies in the area range from high school diploma all the way to Bachelor's in Science degrees.  Either way, getting into this career field is very tough to say the least.

Since this statistic is not tracked I have no numbers to back it up, but there are about 800 crime scene technician jobs in the state of Florida.   Some do everything and others are highly specialized.  In the southwest Florida region there are about 7 to 10 jobs that open in any given year.  That leaves a very small window to get hired.  The more education that you have specific to the job that you are looking into, the greater advantage you would have to get an interview.  But, do not let this bring you down.  Sometimes life experience can go a long way in an interview.  My suggestion is to try and research what the colleges have in this area, and then pick one that best fits what you need.  I cannot recommend one college or university over another for they all have some merit to them, but almost every college has some type of forensic degree program and I am sure one would fit your needs."

Lawrence E. Stringham of the Cape Coral Police Department is the Forensic/Evidence Supervisor of the Forensic Unit of the Cape Coral Police Department.  He has over 28 years of law enforcement experience with 23 years in forensic science.  He holds an Associate Degree in Criminal Justice and is has been tenured as an expert in court in various disciplines of the forensic science world to include: photography, crime scene processing, latent identification and crime scene reconstruction.  He is presently the Second Vice President of the Florida Division of the International Association of Identification the largest forensic organization within the International Association of Identification and the largest state forensic association.

Thank you Lawrence, and thank you Angela for your question!  

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