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If You Like CSI Shows, Now's Your Chance To Do The Job For Real

Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

Forensic Investigator, Theresa Langhus, demonstrates how fingerprints found at crime scenes are compared with those on file on Wednesday, August 10, 2016.

Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

Would you like to test blood spatters, search for gun-shot residue and take crime-scene photographs? If so, the Sacramento Police Department has a job for you.

The Crime Scene Investigation facility for the department is on Richards Boulevard. The CSI part of the first floor is marked with a big thumb print on the window. Fingerprints are a part of the job. They help identify victims of crime, suspects, and unconscious people who have been hospitalized.

Theresa Langhus is a forensic investigator. She chooses the part of a fingerprint that is sent to a state or federal database. She says sections of some fingerprints look quite a bit alike.

"Within this area, you have a tendency to have very similar ridge characteristics, such as ending ridges and bifurcations and dots and the such," says Langhus. "So, in this particular area of a print, it wouldn't be uncommon to find minutiae in common. But, as you branch out farther into the print and don't solely rely on the ridge characteristics here, those similarities are going to go away."  

Langhus says it takes the state fingerprint database  about five minutes to return a list of ten people whose fingerprints most closely resemble the print she submitted.

"It's pretty quick. It's not as quick as like you see on CSI, 'Bloop, bloop, bloop, It's a match.' Not that quick. But pretty decent time period in comparison to back in the day where you would send a print off and you'd have to come back the next day."

She or a latent-print supervisor compare those prints to the original.

"I often have detectives calling me asking me for the status of a case because they want to use it to write a search warrant or something of that nature..." says Langhus. "I have a case sitting on my desk with 47 latents that I need to compare to two different subjects that I've been trying to put the rush on to get done."

The forensic division responds to more than 7400 calls for service each year.

Langhus says gun shot residue, crime scene photography, and blood spatter processing are all part of the job.

"It's not my job to say, 'You're the bad guy.' I just tell the detectives what the science that I do that the evidence that I find tells me."

The application period for the job closes August 26.

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