KC Crime Lab is not like your favorite CSI show

May 28, 2019 - 7:17 am

The kind of crime scene investigations that fascinate television viewers on shows like CSI and NCIS are taking place every day at the Kansas City Police Crime Lab.

Three fourths of the employees of the crime lab are women, and getting a job there is not easy. 

"I'd taken most of my chemistry classes by the time I applied here," said Jessica Rice, who got her start as an intern. "I had a good background for that. I had taken analytical chemistry, so I had a lot of instrument experience, which I think helped put me above the bar."

One big difference between a real crime lab and the kind you see on TV is the scientists rarely find out result of the case. The analysts focus on processing the evidence in front of them. Law enforcement detectives do the rest.

"I work in trace evidence, so we're going to examine small things, like hairs, fibers, paint, tape, things like that," Rice said. "We're actually trying to associate people, places and things."

Students who want to work in a crime lab should know that a criminal justice degree will get them nowhere. Rice suggests a science degree, including biology or chemistry. She said her internship not only taught her about the lab, but the supervisors were able to get to know her and where she fit best.

Working in a crime lab provides opportunities to cultivate a love of science and give back to the community, Rice said.

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