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Crime scene volunteers: How Mesa police recruit help with solving crimes

Posted at 4:25 AM, Feb 07, 2019
and last updated 2019-02-07 07:36:20-05

MESA, AZ — Dusting for fingerprints, searching for DNA and collecting evidence can all sound like a scene from your favorite television crime drama. But, drop the remote because this could be a real-life experience for East Valley residents.

The Mesa Police Department offers a position as a Volunteer Crime Scene Specialist.

Comparing it to "CSI"-type shows will make some volunteers cringe. To volunteers like Gwyneth Gordon, it is not a glamorous job. Instead, it is hard and important work. However, it is rewarding and residents can start helping to track down crooks right in their own communities.

"A lot of it is getting there and trying to pull together all these various pieces of information to figure out, how are you going to do your job?" Gordon explained.

Gordon has been volunteering and helping to solve crimes, like burglaries, minor assaults and crashes for the last nine years.

Gordon assists an employed crime scene specialist on bigger crime scenes, like murders or sexual assaults. But, the education she gets is the same as a police department employee.

She described hours and weeks of in-class and in-the-field training.

The program started about a decade ago when the budget was pretty tight within the department.

"Mesa really wanted to make sure that they could maintain the crime scene processing for the citizens of Mesa at the level they'd come to expect," Gordon said. "So they had to get really creative about, how do you do that, and so, that's when they decided to start this volunteer program."

Gordon is not interested in the fame, like an on-screen crime drama. But, instead she is proud of the real-life difference she is making.

"You know that information is going to be really valuable in helping somebody that has had something really bad happen to them," Gordon said.

Here are the qualifications to be able to apply for the program, per the department's website:

  • Must be at least 18 years of age
  • Have a valid driver's license or other I.D.
  • Application
  • Criminal history check
  • Fingerprinting
  • Certified copy of birth certificate
  • Certified copy of high school transcripts or G.E.D.
  • Selection interview in prospective unit/s
  • Drug Screen

Some positions may require:

  • Polygraph Exam
  • Extensive background interview and investigation

For more information on the Volunteer Crime Scene Specialist program, click here.

Here is a list of other volunteer opportunities within the department, per the department's website:

  • Patrol Support
  • Victim Assistance
  • Detective Assistant
  • DUI Unit
  • Disabled Parking Enforcement
  • Office Assistant
  • Special Events Assistant
  • Police Range
  • Mobile Traffic Monitor
  • License Plate Reader
  • More!

For more information on those, click here.