This special-release episode in the National Institute of Justice's (NIJ's) Just Science podcast series is an interview with Ashley Church and Erin West, founders of Gap Science, who discuss stress and resiliency in crime-scene investigators.
Background information for the interview notes that death investigations can have adverse, long-term effects on crime scene analysts. As Ashley Church and Erin West became involved in their respective careers, they observed a lack of training in recognizing and protecting against threats to the psychological health of forensic scientists. They founded Gap Science, which is working to address this issue and others by providing training and resources for criminal investigations. In this interview, they discuss the features of compassion fatigue, the supervisor's role in protecting the psychological health of the personnel they supervise, and the impact of the scenes of violent crime on the forensic scientists exposed to them. The interview first focuses on their educational and professional backgrounds. Both have worked in and supervised criminal investigation teams. They have experienced and observed the psychological effects of repeated exposure to crime victim suffering and death, which is often experienced by investigators as compassion fatigue or vicarious trauma. Much of the interview focuses on the training of supervisors to recognize and respond appropriately to investigators' attitudes and behaviors that stem from constant exposure to the deaths and suffering of crime victims.