Greenville County
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Forensic Division
Frequently Asked Questions
What is Forensics?

Many people associate forensics with the medical profession, although there are many areas/disciplines of forensics. A common definition of forensic science is the application of the physical sciences and technology to examine physical evidence of crime.

How do I get a forensic investigator to come to my home or business to conduct a forensic investigation?

Forensic personnel are available to respond only to the request of law enforcement agencies in Greenville County. A person must first file a police report/complaint and the investigating law enforcement agency will have one of their officers evaluate the crime scene/circumstances and determine if forensic services are needed.

Can the Greenville County Forensic Division do examinations of evidence for private individuals without making a law enforcement complaint/report?

Our agency is designed to examine evidence only for law enforcement agencies. Many problems could potentially arise regarding the integrity of evidence not collected by trained personnel. An issue could also arise if an individual were caught by a law enforcement officer in possession and/or transporting possible illicit substances/items. If suspected illicit substances/items are found, we advise that you notify your local law enforcement agency and let them take possession of the substance/item. Many private laboratories, even some locally, are available to individuals or businesses to handle their forensic examinations.

If my home, business, or vehicle is burglarized, what should I do?

You should promptly notify the proper law enforcement agency from a safe location. Do not attempt to collect any evidence; our chance of successfully identifying the suspect(s) is greatly hindered when the scene and evidence is contaminated. As tempting as it may be, do not clean up after discovering broken glass, etc.

What is the response time for the Crime Scene Section?

Crime scene requests for service are responded to on a first come, first serve basis. Since the Crime Scene Section covers requests for service in the largest county in South Carolina (789 square miles), driving time alone from one call to another could sometimes take over an hour. This depends on traffic and other factors. In the event of more serious calls involving deaths or serious injury, we must prioritize our calls and respond to the ones with the most serious needs first. We realize that when you are the victim of a crime our timely response is critical to you. We will make every attempt to respond to your needs as soon as possible. If you feel that you cannot wait for the forensic officer to arrive, please advise the investigating officer so other arrangements can be made.

I have been the victim of a crime. In trying to get fingerprints, the forensic investigator used a very messy powder and put it on various items or areas of my home or car, how can I clean up this mess?

The forensic investigator should make every effort possible to minimize the mess they made with the fingerprint powder. In the event that there is fingerprint powder to clean up, please follow the following steps:

  • Areas and items should be vacuumed before any type-wet process is used. Use caution in not letting the vacuum brush drag through the powder as this may create a larger mess and grind the powder into the surface making it harder to clean.
  • Typical household cleaners will generally clean up the powder on clean non-porous surfaces.
  • If the powder is on cloth surfaces, it is best to wash the item with detergent.
  • Sometimes professional cleaning services have experience with this type situation and could be used.
Is forensics really like what I see on TV?

In recent years there have been numerous television programs highlighting the use of forensic science in law enforcement investigations. This has caused a tremendous spike in interest of positions within the Forensic Division. Unfortunately, some of these programs have created unrealistic expectations of the forensic field. This has impacted not only those wanting a career in law enforcement forensics but also of jurors who are lead to believe that all you see on television is reality and the norm.

Does the Forensic Division allow students to "shadow" their employees?

Due to safety issues, policy, and laboratory standards we are unable to accommodate student "shadows".

Can someone from the Forensic Division come to my organization’s meeting, school career day or public event to give a presentation?

With the current popularity of the field of forensics, we receive hundreds of requests from schools and community groups annually for presentations. In order to participate in these events, an analyst/investigator has to be taken away from casework to accommodate the request. This often proves impossible with the volume of casework being requested, court appearances, and staffing levels. We do respond to a few requests from community groups and schools. In order to reach the best target audience from school groups we prefer to make our presentation to high school students.

What are the education requirements to get a job in forensics?

Educational requirements vary according to the forensic discipline and departmental requirements. Many organizations require at least a bachelor’s degree in a natural science for entry level positions. For specialized positions, a minimum of a bachelor's degree in chemistry, biology, or other related subjects are required. For some of the more advanced positions a master’s degree is required. In addition to the previously outlined requirements, the Greenville County Forensic Division requires that all laboratory analysts and forensic investigators receive training and certification from the South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy. Some of the positions require law enforcement certification and experience to be considered for employment.

What are the basic requirements applicants must have when applying for a position in the Forensic Division?
  • Be of good moral character.
  • Be at least 21 years of age.
  • South Carolina resident at the time of law enforcement commissioning.
  • A US citizen.
  • Able to complete a medical examination, alcohol/drug screening, and background investigation.
  • Able to complete required training at the South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy.
  • Meet educational requirements for the desired position.
  • Have a valid SC driver’s license.
  • Have a good driving record.
  • Have a clean criminal history.
  • Have a satisfactory credit history.
  • Have an honorable military discharge (if applicable).