GREENSBORO, N.C. -- A dozen technicians in police uniforms are inside the yellow crime scene tape, putting down markers, making measurements, taking notes. But this is a long way from Las Vegas, Miami or New York.
It isn’t quite that glamorous to be a recruit in the Greensboro Police Department’s CSI Academy, but it is exclusive.
“So far as a standing academy, I don't know anyone in North Carolina who's doing it,” Greensboro Police Chief Wayne Scott said.
And those in the academy can quite literally claim to be one in a hundred, since 1,400 people applied for the dozen or so slots the department has.
It’s work that takes a dedication to detail – on things not always as high-tech as DNA.
“A lot of times, it's things like cigarette butts, you have to be able to kind of differentiate what looks like it's been sitting here forever,” said Kelly Tranter, the director of the academy. “Because, a lot of the scenes sometimes it's in an area where there are cigarette butts, everywhere. But if there's one in close proximity to another evidence item that we know is part of this scene, that's something to look at or if you can tell it's sitting on top of the vegetation.”
Though they can be called in to investigate a murder scene, the majority of their work is on the much more common forms of crime.
“A lot of this is vandalisms, property crimes,” Tranter said. “But those are the crimes that are most important to the members of our community. Those are the things that they want solved. When your home gets broken into, your car gets broken into, that's a big violation.”
“This is what's really important in the CSI world: it helps us link suspects to multiple crimes,” Scott said. “Because we know a lot our crimes are serial in the way they're committed, the DNA - the forensic technology allows us to say, ‘This individual didn't just commit this robbery, but they've committed multiple robberies out of multiple occasions.’”
The personality each one brings to the task is essential in choosing the dozen who made it through.
“There's always kind of a little spark in their eye and this is what they want to do, forever,” Tranter said.
“The ones that are successful are just that - they're curious,” Scott said. “They're curious to the degree that they won't let something go, they keep asking questions.”
And, lastly, they are patient and realistic. One recruit, Kendra Brown told us, “I'd hate for people to get the idea that they're able to seek justice from the crime scene to the courtroom in under an hour, with commercial breaks.”
See the recruits working in this edition of the Buckley Report.