“This is one of the most brutal, heinous and upsetting things I’ve ever seen in my 27 years of law enforcement. Not only the crime scene, but the disregard for common decency toward human beings. ” Joliet Illinois Police Chief Mike Trafton stated. Three people were robbed, brutally killed and dismembered. Police said when they found the bodies, there were 3 other people in the house playing video games showing no remorse at all. Although all crime scenes can be hard to look at, some are ones that will stay in a forensic scientist’s mind for years and can cause them to have nightmares or have different emotional effects on them.
Even though the job as a forensic scientist can be psychologically and physically demanding, it is a very rewarding and necessary job. A forensic scientist is someone who helps lawyers, jurors, and judges understand the results of scientific evidence and tests. The American Academy of Forensic Sciences states “Forensic science is a rewarding career where the love of science can be applied to the good of society, public health, and public safety. ” This job plays a crucial role in solving crimes and convicting the right person.
Forensic scientists work long hours that may take time away from their family and friends, are exposed to dangerous chemicals/environments, and also see things that may have a permanent effect on their minds. Often times, the first responding officer on the scene is put in great danger because he has to secure the scene. “Securing the scene” means that the officer has to make sure that nobody is in the crime scene, making sure it is safe before he/she examines the scene, letting nobody in the scene and also making sure the scene does not get tampered with.
If the criminal is still at the scene, the first responding officer could get injured if he/she does not know that they are still there. Forensic scientists work in hazardous conditions as well as with different biohazards. In addition, they handle many dangerous chemicals and bodily fluids that could be contaminated or harmful to their own health if they touch your skin or you breathe them. Handling these outside of the lab could be more dangerous because in the lab they are stored in sterile containers (Risks of Being a Forensic Technician).
If the chemicals are mixed improperly it could cause an explosion or fire could occur. In addition, bodily fluids could be found at the site of the body, or also feet/yards away from the crime scene, which may pose hazardous problems while trying to collect them. Weapons could also be a potential health hazard to a person examining them, or the crime scene, they could also be contaminated with hazardous chemicals that could be harmful to your health. For example, you could be examining a gun and it could misfire and injure you or others that may be around you.
There could also be needles/glass/other hazardous items that may have been broken at the scene. “While some forensic technicians work primarily in the lab, others routinely visit crime scenes to collect and document evidence. Because many crime scenes are outdoors, forensic technicians may be exposed to hazardous weather conditions such as extreme heat or cold, snow, rain, or even damaging winds (Risks of Being a Forensic Technician). ” Forensic scientists never know what kind of environmental conditions they will be exposed to until they arrive at the scene.
Not only could forensic scientists be exposed to harsh weather conditions outside because it could be pouring rain, snowing, extremely hot, or below 0 degrees. Although forensic science is extremely accurate in most cases, there is a chance for mistakes to be made. Testifying against an innocent man is something no forensic scientist wants to do, but it happens more often than people think. Sometimes evidence could be misleading, or inadequate, and could lead to a forensic scientist testifying information which is based on invalid testing or on false information.
However, science is not always the reason for wrongful convictions. Even though most police officers and government officials are honest and trustworthy, they are still human and wrongful convictions will still continue to occur (The Innocence Project). They may tamper with the evidence, trick the jury into thinking evidence is more scientific than it actually is, or lie intentionally while on the stand. A suspect may also give a false confession or admission for many different reasons that could lead to the guilt being placed on someone who is truly innocent.
The Innocence Project, a group dedicated to exonerating wrongfully convicted individuals through DNA testing and reforming the criminal justice system to prevent future injustice, states that “Too often, forensic analysts’ testimony goes further than the science allows. Many forensic techniques that have been practiced for years – without the benefit of sufficient scientific research – are accepted and repeated as fact. Juries are left with the impression that the evidence is more scientific than it is, and the potential for wrongful convictions increases.
Astonishingly, more than 1 out of 4 people wrongfully convicted but later exonerated by DNA evidence made a false confession or incriminating statement. ” Eyewitness testimony is not always reliable for many reasons. The eyewitness could mistakenly identify someone that is innocent or did not get a clear look at the suspect. The eyewitness could be unconsciously influenced by the investigators mannerisms or line of questioning. Also, memories can change over time.
According to The Innocence Project, “Eyewitness misidentification is the greatest contributing factor to wrongful convictions proven by DNA testing, playing a role in more than 70% of convictions overturned through DNA testing nationwide. ” In addition, hair analysis, bite mark analysis, firearm analysis, and shoe comparisons have been wrong and resulted in wrongful convictions (Unvalidated or Improper Forensic Science). Another concern about a career as a forensic scientist is the sychological effect that working on disturbing cases and see graphic crime scenes can have on a person. “The crime scenes that would physically sicken the “normal” person is the crime scene investigator normal work area. These scenes are embedded in the minds of the crime scene investigator and they must live with these memories the rest of their lives. (Crime Scene Investigators: Are Yours Burned Out? ). ” Seeing the results of crime scenes on a daily basis can have emotional effects on your psyche that may take time to heal.
A forensic scientist may also have to work long hours and in high pressure situations. This results in stress from being under intense pressure and spending time away from being with your family and friends (Crime Scene Investigators: Are Yours Burned Out? ). Forensic scientists have to be prepared for problems such as hazardous working conditions, exposure to biohazards, and stressful work environments every day so they can take the proper precautions and become successful.
Forensic scientists help jurors, lawyers, and judges understand the results of scientific tests and evidence. They play a crucial role in helping to convict a guilty man and to solving crimes. Forensic science is a rewarding career, however future forensic scientists should know some of the important issues that they may face before embarking on the path to pursuing a career as a forensic scientist. There are many safeguards in place to protect forensic scientists from the hazardous conditions and chemicals that they may come in contact with.