Green Bay's all-woman unit is the new wave of CSI

A Green Bay Police forensic specialist captures a fingerprint.
A Green Bay Police forensic specialist captures a fingerprint.(WBAY)
Published: Oct. 29, 2018 at 3:01 PM CDT
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For the first time, the team of people helping find and analyze evidence from crime scenes in Green Bay is made up of all women -- and they're all civilians.

It's starting to become the trend across the country as a way to put more officers on the streets and hire specially-trained analysts.

The team is a critical part of helping detectives solve crimes and keeping the community safe.

In the basement of the Green Bay Police Department, the forensics team focuses on the small details that can make a big impact on a case.

"We process crime scenes, and do surveillance videos, fingerprints, compare, classify. We also process evidence for DNA and fingerprints as well," explains forensic specialist Baeleigh Larson.

Larson became the first civilian on the unit four years ago.

Kristen McMullen just moved halfway across the country to join.

Shelly Czarneski is changing jobs, going back to school while working in the evidence room to become trained to be the one to help collect that evidence.

"I wanted to be on scene and just kind of experience the other side of it, just basically being more involved on the crime scenes," says Czarneski.

A handful of agencies in our area have civilian forensic specialists, but McMullen says nationwide not many are like Green Bay with all civilians.

"I was applying all over the place. I knew I couldn't necessarily get a job as easy in New Jersey, because it's not as 'civilianized' and because of not wanting to go the strict law enforcement route and go through the academy," she says. "It's starting to become something, but it's still hard in a lot of areas."

The job requires science and math expertise plus attention to detail.

But, no. It's not like TV crime shows.

"I kind of actually pick out the things that are wrong," says McMullen, laughing. "And the certain things they do on those shows, it's like, oh, we do that differently."

They don't think it's Hollywood driving more women into forensic careers, instead that more women want to be part of public safety in a different way.

"I have the double major in both, and I decided when I did my internship here that I fell in love with the job and doing the crime scenes and everything like that versus doing patrol work," says Larson.

Having three civilians in this role allows Green Bay to have more officers on the street or focus on community policing.