I have come to realize that many people have no idea what I really do – even the folks (patrol officers, nurses, etc.) I worked cases with. I had an ER nurse ask me why I have a gun, because he thought I just went to hospitals and picked up the body. Many times dispatchers call and say they have an officer who needs us to come pick up the body… An investigator for the ME or Coroner does SO MUCH MORE than pick up the body…. In fact we usually have a contracted transport company do that for US!!
I am going to take the opportunity to try and clarify a bit – and while I certainly can’t cover every type of situation or investigation I will do my best to cover the general concepts and such. I will do so in increments so that each post in itself is not overwhelming with information.
First of all, although I am a trained crime scene investigator – I did not do what is considered to be typical CSI work. I did NOT take latent prints (prints left on surfaces like doors, glass, etc) or work non death cases. I DID assist the CSI’s in collecting evidence from the body at the scene when evidence was likely to get lost or contaminated during movement of the body – such as loose hairs, fibers, GSR (gunshot residue), liquid or body fluids on the clothing or on the outside of the body itself. Sometimes I performed fingernail clippings or scrapings at the scene sometimes or I place paper bags over the hands to protect them for processing during post (autopsy).
In my department we are sworn peace officers, but fall under a different code than regular officers. Our “powers” are limited. We are armed in order to protect ourselves, our scene and evidence. I will get into more of the why that would be necessary when I cover notifications and working a scene.
Here are some examples of what I plan to cover over the next several posts. The listed order is random and some topics may be combined. I may think of other things not listed….
Talking with doctors
Grief and notifications to family
Why do we have guns?
How are we different from “cops”?
COD and manner
The mortis brothers
What are we exposed to?
How do we handle child deaths (emotionally)?
Insects and what they can tell us
How do we determine identification?
Reviewing medical records
Indigent / abandoned bodies
What happens when we can’t identify someone?
How do we work a case?
Is TV for real or way off?
Suggested books and links of interest
Have I ever seen a body move suddenly or sit up? (I can’t count how many times I get asked that!!!!)
If you have any questions regarding a post or have a question you want explained in regards to the what(s) and why(s) of my job, please post it in the comment or “contact” form which goes straight to my email!