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Criminalist

G12

Basic Purpose

Positions within this job family perform and/or manage forensic analysis of evidence from criminal cases and/or convicted offender DNA samples.

Typical Functions

The functions in this job family will vary by level, position, location, and discipline, but may include the following:

Strictly adheres to validated and internationally accepted scientific principles, methods, and quality assurance/quality control; follows safety and health procedures; examines and analyzes various types of forensic evidence, including digital evidence from criminal cases and/or convicted offender DNA samples and accurately interprets the results; generates complete, accurate documentation and files of all forensic analysis performed; prepares laboratory examination reports for use by law enforcement entities and criminal justice members; enters/searches evidence profiles/patterns in forensic databases such as CODIS, AFIS, PDQ, and NIBIN.

Processes and interprets crime scenes in the field routinely being exposed to biohazardous and chemical dangers; recognizes, documents, collects, packages, and transports evidence to a forensic laboratory for analysis, ensuring the integrity of the evidence is protected. Fingerprints deceased persons for the medical examiner’s office to aid in identifications and investigations, occasionally retrieving body parts to process them in a sterile lab environment; receives medical examiner’s evidence to submit to an OSBI laboratory.

Complies with subpoenas, discovery orders, and other orders of the court; testifies as an expert in court and/or administrative hearings concerning the results of forensic examinations of evidence and crime scenes; prepares court exhibits as necessary.

Actively reviews and assesses publications and directives being introduced at the federal level to determine impacts on state and local laboratories and practices; seeks membership on federal boards and organizations to influence direction of forensics; researches scientific/technical literature and forensic methods; attends training to maintain current knowledge and skills; develops/validates new or improved techniques/instrumentation for use in the forensic analysis of evidence; writes, reviews, and updates technical protocols, quality assurance policy/procedures, safety and health policies, and operational policies/procedures.

Identifies grant programs that can provide needed funding to the laboratory; actively participates in writing grant applications and producing regularly scheduled grant reports to federal and state grant administrators to prove compliance with stringent grant program requirements; develops and closely monitors grant budgets when grants have been awarded.

Provides training to criminalists, agents, crime scene technicians, student interns, law enforcement officers, forensic scientists, prosecutors, defense attorneys, and judges; represents the laboratory at committees, meetings, boards, and professional organizations; makes presentations to civic, educational, professional, law enforcement and other interested groups; and occasionally gives media interviews.

Monitors proposed legislation to evaluate its impact on the forensic community; writes new legislation or modifies existing legislation when needed to improve the field of forensics in Oklahoma; educates law makers about proposed legislation and occasionally testifies before legislative bodies to explain legislative changes that are needed.

Performs administrative and/or technical review of forensic work; performs internal quality audits/inspections of units, regions, disciplines, and laboratory functions; ensures technical compliance, quality, and uniformity; understands and complies with standards required for the laboratory to maintain international accreditation and federal standards regulating the analysis of DNA evidence and DNA database profiles.

Develops and maintains effective professional communications and working relationships with peers, co-workers, supervisors, administrators, law enforcement officers, medical examiners, forensic professionals, prosecutors, defense attorneys, educators, and professional organizations; advises, educates and assists investigators and prosecutors in furthering criminal investigations and in preparing cases for trial by providing guidance on appropriate laboratory testing, and on the meaning, significance and applicability of the results of forensic analysis.

Level Descriptors

The Criminalist job family has five levels which are distinguished by type and complexity of work and the degree of responsibility assigned.

Level I:                                                   Code:  G12A                                          Salary Band:  K

This is the entry level where incumbents train to perform forensic analysis, and perform some limited supervised casework.  All aspects of assigned tasks are clearly defined and all work is technically and administratively reviewed during performance and upon completion.  At this level, incumbents may accompany senior analysts to crime scenes and perform tasks under direct supervision. Incumbents do not have supervisory, research and development, or training responsibilities.

Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities required at this level include knowledge of the assigned field of work (chemistry, biology, forensic science, criminalistics, criminal justice, latent print development, print identification, firearms and tool marks, digital evidence, or document examination); of basic scientific principles; of methods used in forensic analysis; of grammar, punctuation, English usage, and spelling; and of math.  Ability is required to prepare evidence and exhibits for court; to effectively testify in court or administrative hearings; to organize and present facts and opinions clearly; and to establish and maintain effective working relationships.

Education and Experience required is a minimum of a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university.

Level II:                                                  Code:  G12B                                          Salary Band:  L

At this career level incumbents perform a range of basic work as a forensic laboratory analyst.  They perform scientific and technical analysis in all but the most difficult and complex criminal cases.  They train to perform more advanced and complex analysis.  They may assist in training others in basic work, perform limited technical and administrative reviews, and perform limited supervised research and development, and may assist in crime scene work.

Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities required at this level include those identified in Level I plus knowledge of criminal investigative procedures relating to laboratory criminalistics; of statutory criminal law; of laboratory techniques; of Laboratory Quality Assurance/Quality Control standards; and of laboratory safety policies and practices.  Ability is required to use laboratory equipment and instrumentation efficiently; and to conduct crime scene investigations.

Education and Experience required at this level consists of those identified in Level I plus one year of experience as a forensic laboratory criminalist.  Depending upon selective qualifications, experience may be in controlled substances, trace evidence, forensic biology, serology, forensic DNA, toxicology, questioned documents, digital evidence, firearms/tool marks,  latent prints, or digital evidence.  Experience must have been full time and the primary job responsibility to be qualifying.

Level III:                                                 Code:  G12C                                          Salary Band:  M

This is the specialist level where incumbents independently plan and perform advanced scientific and technical analysis of evidence in criminal cases, including the most complex and difficult of examinations requiring extensive knowledge and high skill levels.  They are individually responsible for the accuracy, sufficiency and timely completion of their work.  Incumbents may train other criminalists, function as lead worker by assigning/reviewing work of others, conduct research and scientific studies to develop new techniques and methods, assist in writing technical protocols and laboratory procedures, and may serve as unit or regional supervisor in the absence of the supervisor. Incumbents at this level may independently process crime scenes.

Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities  required at this level include those identified at Level II plus ability is required to provide leadership and direction to lower level employees; to make public presentations and speeches; and to conduct scientific research.

Education and Experience required at this level consists of those identified in Level II plus two years of additional qualifying experience as a forensic laboratory criminalist.

Level IV:                                                 Code:  G12D                                          Salary Band:  N

This is the leadership level where employees are assigned responsibilities supervising and directing others in work involving the scientific and technical analysis of evidence and/or convicted offender DNA samples.  They supervise the personnel and activities of a forensic laboratory unit or region; provide general direction of the unit or region; provide technical management over a specific discipline in a unit or region; and/or they may function as a technical manager over a forensic discipline practiced at one or more laboratories.  They will assist with budget preparation, quality audits, quality assurance, laboratory planning, laboratory projects, grants, training and development, developing specifications for acquisition of specialized equipment or supplies, and in developing/revising operational and technical policies and procedures.  They also perform some forensic analysis of evidence and/or offender DNA samples, and may process crime scenes.  

Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities required at this level include those identified at Level III plus knowledge of the principles and practices of effective supervision and management; of laboratory auditing; of budgeting and planning; and/or of forensic databases.

Education and Experience required at this level consists of those identified in Level III plus one additional year of qualifying experience as a forensic laboratory criminalist.

Level V:                                                 Code:  G12E                                           Salary Band:  O

At this level employees are assigned administrative responsibilities involving the direction of a major section of the laboratory system and as a statewide administrative coordinator of certain forensic disciplines, projects, and programs; and/or may perform the duties of laboratory system Quality Assurance/Quality Control Manager over all disciplines at all laboratory locations.  They will manage section activities, develop and implement goals and objectives, manage and coordinate forensic programs or disciplines and direct complex forensic science projects which have an impact on the laboratory system and/or the field of forensic science.  They will participate in the strategic planning for the Criminalistics Division and will be involved in setting the goals and objectives for the laboratory.

Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities  required at this level include those identified at Level IV plus the ability to manage complex projects and programs; to manage the quality assurance program; to manage laboratory accreditation; and to manage and evaluate the activities of a criminalistics laboratory.

Education and Experience required at this level consists of those identified in Level IV plus two additional years of supervisory experience as a forensic laboratory criminalist.

Special Requirements

Applicants must possess, or be eligible for a valid Oklahoma driver’s license.  They must be able to meet the requirements for peace officer certification if required by the agency.  They must possess the physical and mental stamina to perform the work and accept the inherent physical, psychological, chemical, and biological hazards.  They need accurate vision with or without corrective lens, and need to accurately distinguish between colors.  They must be able to successfully complete any necessary training and certification required by the agency, be able to be called back to work at irregular times, be willing and able to work overtime when required, and be willing and able to travel frequently and be in travel status for extended periods of time.  They must be willing to transfer where and when needed and to accept assignments anywhere in the state; pass a thorough character and background investigation; successfully pass a polygraph examination, drug screen and, if required by the agency, a psychological evaluation.  Subsequent to an offer of employment, applicants may be required by the Oklahoma Law Enforcement Retirement System to satisfy psychological testing, medical examination and/or physical agility testing standards or requirements.  Educational and/or experience selective qualifications may apply for specific disciplines, levels, or positions.

Some positions may require certification by the International Association of Computer Investigative Specialist (IACIS) as a Certified Forensic Computer Examiner.

The federal Omnibus Consolidated Appropriations Act of 1997 contained an amendment of the federal Gun Control Act of 1968.  This amendment addresses misdemeanor crimes of domestic violence.  Commissioned applicants must be able to satisfy the limitations contained in this federal law.