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Just Science: Just Forensic Technician Vicarious Trauma

NCJ Number
Date Published
March 2019
2 pages

This eighth episode of the Identification season of the National Institute of Justice's (NIJ's) Just Science podcast series is an interview with Selena McKay Davis, lead senior forensic specialist at Riverside Police Department, who discusses and compares job-related stress for forensic technicians and sworn peace officers.


In the interview, she discusses the findings and methodology of her graduate thesis, which examined the similarities and differences in job-related stress and stressors of civilian forensic technicians and sworn police officers. The study was based on a survey of forensic technicians and sworn peace officers regarding levels of job-related stress and the various sources of job-related stress. The study found that 10 of the top 20 stressors were shared by peace officers and forensic technicians. The job-related stress levels for forensic technicians were slightly higher than the levels for police officers. Female forensic technicians had slightly higher levels of job-related stress than male forensic technicians. Extended contact with crime scenes, exposure to crime victims' deaths, suffering, and violence were comparable and sometimes higher than that experienced by peace officers. The interview also includes a discussion of the organizational and governmental stake in addressing vicarious trauma among both civilian and sworn personnel involved in law enforcement. Job performance, loss of work days, turnover, premature death, disability, turnover, and early retirement can be linked to untreated vicarious trauma.

Date Published: March 1, 2019