Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

AT THE SCENE OF THE CRIME; Evidence Technician Seeks Answers When Chaos Subsides, She Takes Over

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

AT THE SCENE OF THE CRIME; Evidence Technician Seeks Answers When Chaos Subsides, She Takes Over

Article excerpt

Byline: MATT COLEMAN

It was a definite change of pace. Detective Joyce Gay was trained to think of police work as more preventive and fast-paced.

Instead of responding the moment crimes are reported, evidence technicians get called in once the chaos comes to a halt. They search for the little details.

She said finding some small shred of evidence others might have overlooked has become just as invigorating as making an arrest.

Gay is a seven-year veteran of the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office. The Austin, Texas, native settled in Jacksonville and became an accountant after a tour in the Navy. A few friends who worked in law enforcement planted some seeds of interest, and Gay soon waved goodbye to the desk job and suited up as a patrol officer. A commanding officer suggested she become an evidence technician four years ago, and she has been sweating the details ever since.

The 43-year-old detective doesn't fit the typical law enforcement stereotype. But a casual conversation revealed she's not one to be taken lightly. She spoke briskly and with authority and reeled off information without hesitation.

After stopping off at the Sheriff's Office property room to deliver bags of evidence, she assembled her gear - including multiple packages of sterile gloves, spools and a digital camera. Policy prevented her from exposing too much or getting into details, but she dumped the load in the back of her patrol vehicle, a burly Chevy Astro van with her name etched on the side.

The computer screen attached to the van's center console was dotted with multiple crime scenes, and Gay said it might seem daunting at first but selected her next target with little hesitation. She said homicide call-outs and serious traffic accidents take precedent for the handful of technicians. If there aren't any time-sensitive destinations, she chooses her next stop based on what's closest. …

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