Day in the Life of a Crime Scene Investigator
Blood splatter, bullet casings and fingerprints are some of the evidence Gary Cortolillo, a certified crime scene investigator for the Davie Police, gathers on the job. No day is the same for the Broward College alumnus.
Gary’s shift runs from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m., Monday through Friday. He is also rotating on-call with two other investigators during the weekends. Gary usually starts the morning with paperwork, finishing up reports from the previous day, or processing existing evidence.
Sometimes, he’ll get dispatched to a crime scene either by his direct supervisor, the investigation division or a sergeant from the department. His unit is typically involved in major crime scenes or property and residential burglaries where there is a large amount of cash, firearm, jewelry or drugs in the case.
Gary also works on homicides, officer-involved shootings and other similar scenarios. During a homicide he joins fellow investigators on site. They are briefed by the lead detective or the sergeant supervising the scene. Then there is a quick walk-through to point out evidentiary areas and items that need processing. Next comes the first stage of documentation. Gary will take lots of photographs of varying distances, as well as photos of each individual piece of evidence. The department also uses 360 photography, a technique similar to what realtors use when they are trying to sell a house.
Ultimately, Gary says they’re attempting to reconstruct the events that occurred during the incident to help assist the detectives. He also takes notes with general measurements of the scene so that a crime scene sketch can be done. Gary will look at the points of entry like doors and windows, as well as mirrors and drawers. If it’s a homicide, he will look at every surface of the house. Once the fingerprint is taken, he and fellow investigators will look at bloodstain patterns and conduct bloodstain pattern analysis to get an idea of what happened. If shots were fired, then they look at the bullet trajectory.
Who is an ideal candidate for a crime scene investigator?
Gary recommends that those interested in the field should:
– Be detail oriented.
– Have very good observational skills
– Be able to think outside the box and put themselves in the shoes of an offender.
He credits his love for his career to the education he received at Broward College and, particularly, to Professor Jack Hackett.
“The classes that I took under Professor Hackett really prepared me for what I was about to face on the streets and in the real world,” Gary said. “I had the ability to gain textbook knowledge, but also what you are actually going to see in a real life situation. I really hit the ground running early on…So I was pretty well prepared for what I was going to face on the job.”
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