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What Are the Risks of Being a Crime Scene Investigator?

by Erin Schreiner

When a crime occurs, the scene of the crime usually holds clues to what transpired. Crime scene investigators comb these scenes, separating valuable evidence from useless debris. Any time an individual works in and around crimes, dangers exist. Although working as a crime scene investigator is a noble profession and might be exciting, consider the risks associated with this field before pursuing this career option.

Hazardous Materials

Much of the evidence that crime scene investigators gather could be harmful if not handled properly. If crime scene investigators are not careful with human tissue and blood evidence, for instance, they could contract a communicable disease. Crime scene investigators often come into contact with chemical substances that could prove hazardous. To prevent injury or illness from contact with bodily fluids or chemicals, crime scene investigators must exercise proper handling procedures, says the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Continued Danger Presence

Crime scene investigators are usually not at great risk of injury on the crime scene because by the time they arrive, first responders have already secured the crime scene. However, some risks, inherent to working in an active crime scene, remain. In a brief on crime scene investigation, the U.S. Department of Justice notes that because the perpetrators of the crime may still be at large, crime scene investigators put themselves at risk by spending time at the active crime scene.

Mental Stress

Repeatedly witnessing the horrors of crime scenes can be mentally taxing, notes the BLS. Crime scene investigators, also known as forensic science technicians, must be skilled at handling the emotions that accompany seeing horrific scenes. Workers who lack this skill may suffer lasting mental effects or require counseling to handle the stress associated with the job.

Burnout

The job of crime scene investigation is tremendously taxing. The workload is heavy, says the website ExploreHealthCareers.org. Crime scene investigators have to work odd hours, reporting to work when crimes happen to collect the necessary evidence. With these demands, which can take away from family time, individuals who work in this field are prone to burnout.

Expert Testimony Risks

When not gathering or interpreting evidence, crime scene investigators serve as expert witnesses in criminal trials. These experts can face the risk of retaliatory action from individuals related to the defendants against whom they are testifying. They also face danger if people against whom they have testified are released from jail or convictions are not secured.

About the Author

Erin Schreiner is a freelance writer and teacher who holds a bachelor's degree from Bowling Green State University. She has been actively freelancing since 2008. Schreiner previously worked for a London-based freelance firm. Her work appears on eHow, Trails.com and RedEnvelope. She currently teaches writing to middle school students in Ohio and works on her writing craft regularly.

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