by Hayden B. Baldwin

As crime scene investigator perform their daily duties are they missing crucial items of evidence? Are they finding the evidence but not properly documenting the evidence in their reports? Do they display a care less attitude to victims or other officers at the scene? These and other symptoms are often associated with signs of burnout.

Crime scene investigator are generally taken for granted by their superiors, fellow officers and the public. These Crime scene investigator are human, and as such have human frailties. They get hungry, tired and have off days just like everyone else does. However they are expected to perform at 110% at every crime scene and in most circumstances they do an outstanding job. Think about their job for a minute. They are required to process the most heinous crime scenes known to mankind, without showing any emotion to the victims or the suspects in the case. After awhile the Crime scene investigator becomes a robot, performing their duty without any emotions. Or do they?

The crime scenes that would physically sicken the "normal" person is the crime scene investigator normal work area. These scenes are embedded in the minds of the crime scene investigator and they must live with these memories the rest of their lives. These memories can and will take a toll on a person. The crime scene investigator must make a conscious effort to block out these tragedies or make light humor of them, this is their only release. What happens if they cannot release their emotions? They become burned out! Unable to cope with their duties and unable to deal with others.

There are several other factors that can create stress on these crime scene investigator, the supervisor, the work load, the court system and even fellow employees. However the one area that drastically affects the crime scene investigator is their family. The crime scene investigator family should come first to all other duties but usually they come out last on the list of priorities. This will cause great stress on the crime scene investigator and their family. On any given holiday or special occasion the crime scene investigator is subject to being called out. Not just to handle a minor problem but usually to handle a case where the victim is under great emotional stress, severely injured or dead. Not only must the crime scene investigator deal with the stress within his own family, he must now deal with the victim and their family.

The bottom line is - are your crime scene investigator burned out? They may very well be! Watch for the signs of burnout and deal with it accordingly -  consultation, time off, or as a last step a transfer. One word of caution, recognize the difference between being burned out and stressed out. In this situation burned out refers to a person who is unable to recuperate from the stress. Stressed out is a person having a bad day.

Finally, remember that your crime scene crime scene investigator are human, they too have emotions !