This is the latest in an occasional series on Burbank Police
BURBANK -- Victoria Payson said there isn’t much difference
between the Burbank Police Department’s Identification Section and
“CSI: Crime Scene Investigation” -- except for the designer clothing
and fancy cars featured in the CBS crime drama.
Payson, a forensic specialist supervisor, said that for the most
part, the TV show encapsulates the functions of the section.
“Our job is to identify, collect and preserve evidence, whether
it’s something as small as photographing a city car damaged by a
fallen tree limb, or as serious as investigating a homicide,” she
Forensic specialists gather latent fingerprints, bloodstains and
any other evidence that assist police in solving crimes. They also
photograph scenes and make diagrams to recreate incidents for judges
“When we go into the field and start a case, we have to think of
the end result, because we will later go to court and testify as
expert witnesses,” Payson said.
The amount of time spent on an incident can vary drastically. For
example, photographing a vehicle damaged by a hit-and- run accident
can take less than 15 minutes, compared to more than four weeks spent
investigating a homicide, she said.
The section then protects all the evidence it obtains.
“An important part of our job is maintaining the integrity of the
evidence so it hasn’t been tampered with or altered,” said Celeste
Patchett, one of three forensic specialists on staff with the bureau.
What Patchett finds most fulfilling about her work is the
knowledge she is helping fight crime in Burbank.
“We’re doing good by getting people off the street who shouldn’t
be there,” she said.
But Payson said one of the hardest parts of the job is dealing
with a particular vulnerability.
“We all have our kryptonite,” she said. “I don’t like vomiting,
and Celeste doesn’t like broken bones.”