I conducted an internship with the Comal County Sheriff’s Office, Criminal Investigation’s Division, located in New Braunfels, Texas in the fall semester of 2019. This report will go in detail through the process and organization of of a 9-1-1 call in progress. Although there are many different departments that a case can go through, I believe there are only a few that necessitate anthropology. The departments I will be talking about include; Dispatch, Police Officers responding (PO), Crime Scene Technicians (CST), Criminal Investigations Division (CID), Records and Autopsy. Each department plays a key factor in a criminal case. I will present different cases I feel will provide a better perspective of what I learned during my internship.
As stated on the office’s website, the mission is – “The Comal County Sheriff’s Office is committed to serving all of our citizens and visitors with professional law enforcement representing honor, integrity, courage, strength and character as the five points of the Sheriff’s Star. We are committed to making Comal County a safe place to live, raise a family, work and visit. We are committed in this effort through crime prevention initiatives and the protection of life and property.” The internship is designed for a student to be able to see how the different departments work and how they work together as well. Each division has a certain number of people that must be there each day. Dispatchers must be present at all times of the day to receive any call that could come in. Calls vary from traffic incidents, livestock on the road, missing persons, suicide notice, remains found and much more. Every call is of importance but not every call needs to be handled in the same matter. Police officers are on duty twenty-four hours a day and seven days a week. Without police officers, there would be nobody to respond to calls or protect the city on the streets. Police officers play a key role at the office, they are the first ones called out to any scene or case that is called in to the dispatch team. Depending on the severity of the case, Crime Scene Tech will be needed. Cases involving drugs, human remains, suicide, deadly automobile incidents or anything that requires evidence to be taken and pictures to be captured. The CST is responsible for collecting any evidence that is of necessity to the case as well as taking pictures of the surrounding area or the subject at large. CST’s play a big role in big cases. Criminal Investigations is a division that is responsible for any criminal activity that appears. If there is a murder or sexual assault case, CID oversees finding the person that committed the crime as well as finding the victim. They conduct interviews and conversations that pertain to the case. Because there are thousands of cases each month, it is critical to have a tough team that can work diligently and in a timely manner. Records is a department within the office that makes folders for each case that we get where the criminal is put in the jail. This department keeps a record that is stored in a special room that nobody else can go in other than them. They play a key role in keeping tabs on how many times a person has committed crime and been locked up for it. The last division I will talk about it Autopsy. Typically, in a case that involves death every dead body is sent off to a pathologist that conducts an autopsy to figure out the exact cause of death. Pathologists ultimately decide whether the story that is given from the offender is the truth. Any little thing that could’ve gone wrong will come to surface in an autopsy and it is up to the pathologist to find it.
Overview of duties
My duties varied at the office but ultimately, I was under just one person, Rex Campbell. Rex offered many opportunities for me to learn new things each day. Although Rex was the internship coordinator, I spent most of my time doing what I thought would be most helpful to me in the long run, spending a lot of time with the Crime Scene Technicians and understanding their daily duties. I did have a specific job to fulfill before I was able to do what I wanted to do. I was a part of the records department. In that department I oversaw creating folders and filing away criminal cases in the file room. Each folder had the last name followed by the first name written in big letters on the front. Special numbers were used to print the case number on the side of the folder in bright visible colors. I learned that this job is not only time consuming, it is also very impeccable that everything is done correctly and spelled correctly. These folders are kept in file for many years so being able to make sure they were all in order on the shelves was a big task. It doesn’t seem like a lot, it really wasn’t, but it was surprising that some people can do it correctly. The records department is very small, only four people work there daily Monday-Friday and then I go in to help every Tuesday. Although the duties in records didn’t vary, the duties I had in other departments did. Each day I was there I would complete my task in records and then go to lunch. The time spent after lunch was all on my call, which department I wanted to be in was my decision and Rex would help me get there. Through my semester at the Sheriff’s office, I spent time with CST, evidence, CID, dispatch, narcotics, PO’s, autopsy as well as going to the gun range to see what it was like to shoot and carry the weapons that PO’s use in an as-needed basis.