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BC class gets a visit from police CSI

Hannah Breeland, Opinions editor

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Bakersfield College’s Forensic Science class got a special visit from the Bakersfield Police Department. Professor Smith called BPD CSI to give a lecture, answer questions and show students their truck.

“I ask them to come out once every semester,” said Smith, “It’s always fun for the students when they do.”

Rebecca Stokes, the BPD Crime Scene Unit Supervisor, and her lab technician Destinie Martinez were the guests of honor for the Forensics class Feb.14.

Stokes, a BC graduate, shared her experience of being a lab technician and her responsibility of supervisor. “I got to experience a lot of different aspects of police work and I just kind of fell into lab tech work. Right now I have four lab techs under me and a clerk.”

Stokes went on to describe a lab tech’s duties. “The responsibility of a lab tech is Monday through Friday eight to five, and switching off being on call,” said Stokes. “On call is being ready to respond 24/7 to serious crimes, such as homicide, bank robberies, sexual assaults, and suspicious deaths. In January alone, we responded to 25 different calls.”

Stokes said that it’s normal for them to respond to several hundred call-outs a year and that last year there were 39 homicides alone, making it at least two a month all year.

“We process items of evidence that have been taken by officers, and DNA comparisons. We respond to autopsy to take pictures and gather evidence that might be left on the body,” said Stokes, explaining some of the finer details of being a CSI lab technician.  “We also go get surveillance video, Destine just came back from getting video from a 7-11 robbery, because everyone has video surveillance nowadays,” said Stokes.

“Unfortunately it’s usually crappy. No one buys the nice systems. Sometimes we get lucky and there’s a clear picture of the perpetrator.”

Stokes and Martinez both answered questions by students and the professor.

Before they showed the students the truck that all lab techs take out when they respond to a call. There was a mention that BPD will be hiring two more lab techs soon.

“We love our work, [but] this job isn’t for everyone.” Stokes said. “The call-outs can be very tiring. You have to have stamina and a willingness to work hard. Willing to see and do some gross things.”

BC student Ashley Cruc was looking forward to the visit.

“I’m just waiting to graduate. I’m in stage three for the LAPD, which is background checks. It’s a four-month process to get accepted to the police academy,” said Cruc.

She continued, “Since police and lab tech work so close with each other it was nice hearing what they had to say.”

Fellow BC student Sheryl Carter felt the same way. “I enjoyed it. I want to be a probation officer but this was an insight on other possibilities. I will take this over a lecture any day.”

Stokes and Martinez showed off their truck, which was filled with different equipment like metal detectors, a finger printing kit, and different bags for collecting evidence. All things that are used when responding to call-outs.

When asked why they loved their job, Stokes said, “It’s really thrilling when you’re a part of the team that solved a tragic crime knowing you were a part of it. It takes at least two years before you get used to it but when you do it’s a very gratifying job.”

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BC class gets a visit from police CSI