The science community refers to all of the departments, teams, and specialists that collect and examine evidence in order to determine whether a crime has been committed, and if a crime has been committed, to determine who committed that crime. In other words, the science community refers to the experts who examine crime scenes (or potential crime scenes) and gather the evidence that law enforcement professionals and prosecutors need to arrest, try, and convict criminals. Members of the science community may work as criminal psychologists, forensic experts, medical examiners, profilers, or in any number of other positions typically found in federal law enforcement agencies, law firms, police departments (both local and state), private practices, state law enforcement agencies, and other locations.
Members of the science community working in the criminal justice field may conduct autopsies and other tests to determine the cause of an individual’s death; conduct tests to link evidence to potential suspects; examine crime scenes; or gather evidence. In addition, they might explain evidence to law enforcement professionals or officers of the court; interview suspects to determine their mental state or to determine if they are fit to stand trial; profile potential suspects; testify in court; or carry out any of a variety of other tasks. It is important to note, however, that a member of the science community can only perform tasks related to his or her area of expertise and under the jurisdiction of his or her law enforcement agency . In other words, a member of the science community can only perform these tasks for cases related to the field in which the individual is an expert and only for cases his or her organization actually has the authority to take. For example, a forensic accountant working for the United States Secret Service (USSS) may be able to examine the financial records of a counterfeiting ring because a forensic accountant is an expert in tracking financial transactions, and counterfeiting falls under the jurisdiction of the USSS. A forensic accountant working for the USSS, however, cannot examine the financial records of a drug ring, because the USSS does not have the authority to investigate drug-related crimes.