OKC Police Hire Civilians To Help Solve Real Crimes

Tuesday, June 25th 2013, 5:36 pm
By: News 9

The Oklahoma City Police Department is starting a new program where people from all walks of life get to help their officers solve real crimes.

This is the first time the OKC police department has allowed civilians to be part of their criminal investigations unit, and they are already getting a taste of what it's like to be on the scene of a crime.

Jaclyn Burnett is one of the four Civilian Investigation Specialists chosen to be part of this pilot program. She has a degree in police science and criminal justice, but that's not what she used to do.

"Before I did this, I was actually a travel agent," said Burnett. "So this is completely different."

Now, she and the others get to put their degrees to good use, and help police with some of their non-emergency calls.

"This job allows us to be civilians, and still go out into the field and investigate scenes and take reports," Burnett explained.

Chelsea Gordon is a civilian taking part in the department's Crime Scene investigations side.

"I've worked at pharmacies, I've waited tables," said Gordon. "I've done a little of everything to get me through school."

She actually went to school for criminal justice. She is glad to finally being able to put her forensic science training to the test.

In fact, many of these civilian investigators have already helped officers solve real crimes around the city.

"I've been on a couple of homicides, we do suicides," said Gordon. "I've been on an officer involved shooting."

But most of the crimes they work on are property crimes. So they'll help dust for prints, collect evidence, and take photographs. And though they don't wear a badge or carry a gun, they are considered part of the team.

"The back of their shirts say police, but the back of our shirts say crime scene investigator," explained Gordon. "I'm just really excited to be able to do this."

If this pilot program is a success, the police department is hoping to add more of these civilians to their criminal investigations unit.

The police department actually plans to eventually replace all of its commissioned officers in the Crime Scene investigation unit with civilians. This is to cut costs and free up those officers so they can go back to patrolling the streets.