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City of Torrance
Class Code: 5343
Class Designation: Civil Service

October 2009 (Revised)
Representation Unit: Torrance Professional &
Supervisory Association

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Senior Forensic Identification Specialist

Definition

Under direction, performs the full range of complex and technical crime scene investigation duties to include testifying as an expert witness in the presentation of courtroom evidence; and performs related work as required.

Distinguishing Characteristics

This is the full journey-level class within the job series. Employees within this class are distinguished from the Forensic Identification Specialist by being a fingerprint expert and the performance of the full range of duties, as assigned. Employees at this level receive only occasional instruction or assistance as new or unusual situations arise, and are fully aware of the operating procedures and policies of the work unit. This level is fully qualified to work in the field, independent of supervision, even on the most complex cases and is expected to give expert testimony in court.  Work is judged primarily on overall results with great latitude in determining work methods and assignment requirements.  Work may require the development of recommendations consistent with directives, policies and regulations.

Supervision Exercised/Received


Receives direction from the Forensics Supervisor or Police Lieutenant.  Provides technical direction to Forensic Identification Specialists. 

Examples of Essential Duties

The following duties represent the principal job duties; however, they are not all-inclusive.
  • Processes the most complex crime scenes requiring specialized techniques in recognizing, searching, collecting, and preserving all types of friction skin evidence, including partial distorted latent prints, and physical evidence;
  • Develops, collects, and preserves latent fingerprints by dusting, and applying various chemical processes and utilizing alternative light source technology;
  • Prepares, enters, and compares latent fingerprints in the automated system currently in use by the Police Department;
  • Conducts crime scene investigations to recognize, search for, collect, photograph and preserve latent prints and physical evidence such as hairs, fibers, plant material, and biological fluids;
  • Makes impressions of shoe prints, tire tracks, and other objects at crime scenes;
  • Provides technically competent, expert testimony on comparisons of partial and distorted friction skin evidence and processing of crime scenes;
  • Updates procedural manuals and participates in developing briefing and training videos;
  • Prepares court exhibits and testifies in court regarding findings;
  • Performs detailed comparisons of partial and distorted friction skin evidence to known friction skin exemplars;
  • Guides and instructs less experienced personnel in the various assigned duties of the position;
  • Collects, photographs, preserves, identifies palm prints and other types of body prints and performs basic presumptive tests for biological fluids;
  • Makes assignments, sets priorities, trains and reviews the work of subordinate staff.
  • Examples of Other Duties

    The following duties represent duties that are generally performed by this position, but are not considered to be principal job duties:
  • Participates in training of staff and outside agency personnel.
  • Participates in case related research projects and evaluates new procedures.
  • Attends division and department meetings as required.
  • Serves on various committees as appropriate.
  • Performs related duties as required.
  • Qualification Guidelines

    Knowledge of
  • Federal, State and local laws regulating the collection and preservation of evidence;
  • Crime scene and laboratory unit including recognition, collection, preservation and interpretation of all types of evidence;
  • Processes used to classify latent prints and methods used for automated search and retrieval;
  • Type and content of testimony which constitutes being an expert witness;
  • Specialized techniques in processing and documentation of crime scenes;
  • Recognition, search techniques, collection, and documentation of latent prints from physical evidence;
  • Automated systems and chemical methods used to identify and compare latent fingerprints to partial and distorted friction skin evidence as well as known friction skin exemplars;
  • Modern photographic equipment and photography techniques;
  • Methods of preserving evidence at crime scenes;
  • Methods used to make cast impressions of tire tracks, shoeprints, and other physical evidence;
  • City ordinances and administrative rules and regulations affecting departmental operations;
  • General City operations.
  • Ability to:
  • Interpret and apply Federal, State and local laws, rules and regulations regulating the collection and preservation of evidence;
  • Independently and accurately conduct crime scene investigations;
  • Recognize, search for, collect and preserve all types of evidence;
  • Effectively use such photographic techniques as macro, micro, infrared, ultraviolet and alternate light source (laser) to record or visualize physical or trace evidence;
  • Collect, photograph, preserve, classify and identify fingerprints, palm prints and other types of body prints;
  • Use the automated system currently in use by the Police Department to process and interpret latent prints;
  • Collect, photograph, preserve, identify and perform basic analysis of bloodstains and other types of physical evidence;
  • Prepare castings or moulages of various impressions;
  • Prepare accurate, concise and thorough written crime scene reports;
  • Effectively testify in court as an expert witness regarding crime scene evidence;
  • Effectively give instruction and guidance to less qualified forensic personnel in the field;
  • Take and process effective and useful crime scene photos;
  • Lift and classify latent fingerprints according to established systems and procedures;
  • Operate digital, film and video equipment in the gathering and presentation of evidence;
  • Accurately and confidently give courtroom testimony regarding the collection of crime scene evidence;
  • Prepare and present thorough and accurate crime scene reports;
  • Research case projects and evaluate new forensic techniques and procedures;
  • Work any shift including evenings, nights, weekends, and holidays;
  • Work with minimum supervision;
  • Work in a team environment and provide specialized knowledge and advice to investigators;
  • Communicate effectively with a wide variety of individuals;
  • Make effective oral presentations and conduct training sessions;
  • Establish and maintain effective working relationships with City staff, other agencies, elected officials, community representatives, public and volunteers;
  • Plan, organize and ensure the completion of work assignments in a timely manner.
  • Licenses and Certification

    Must possess a valid State of California driver's license of the appropriate class.

    Education and Experience

    Any combination of education and experience that provides the required knowledge and skills is qualifying.  A typical way of obtaining the necessary knowledge and abilities is:
    Graduation from an accredited college with a Bachelor's degree in criminalistics, police science, or a related field and; three years paid experience as a Forensic Identification Specialist or the equivalent at an accredited forensic laboratory, or law enforcement agency, participating in site investigations and laboratory analysis. Experience may be substituted for the required education on a year-for-year basis to a maximum of four years experience.
    Special Requirements

    Performance of the essential duties of this position includes the following physical demands and/or working conditions.

    Work is performed in an office, laboratory, and in outside weather conditions, with exposure to hazardous conditions.  In the event of an emergency, may on occasion be exposed to blood and other body fluids and adverse conditions for an extended period of time. 

    May be required to travel to a variety of off-site locations and available to respond during off duty hours.

    Career Ladder Information

    Experience gained in this classification may serve to meet the qualification guidelines for promotion to Forensics Supervisor.