Denver police introduced new citizen volunteers yesterday, including a 26-year-old college student headed for the program’s elite crime scene investigation unit, the Rocky Mountain News reports. Inundated with calls from would-be sleuths anxious to lend cops a hand, police officials decided to highlight the program at a news conference. Over time, the CSI part of the program could expand to 40 to 50 volunteers. Nearly 400 people now volunteer for the police overall.
The CSI volunteers will not work high-profile or violent crime cases, but will concentrate on property crimes that otherwise might not have been investigated by a traditional CSI team. Among other volunteer tasks, an IBM employee, has been designing Web sites and compiling crime databases to map crimes; another volunteer is piloting a police helicopter. The idea for the unit surfaced after President Bush introduced a program called Volunteers in Police Service four years ago. The Denver effort is patterned partly after a decade-long program in San Diego. Pete Zajda, who heads that city’s volunteer force, said the program has more than 800 volunteers who do neighborhood patrols and crisis intervention. In addition to fingerprints, Denver’s volunteer CSI teams will be trained to collect DNA evidence, such as that found in loose hairs. They also will be trained to take crime scene photographs.