My department (roughly 400 sworn personnel) is contemplating a full time crime scene team. This team would respond for felony crimes against other persons, death investigations, autopsies, felony property crimes,search warrants, and other crimes as available. I am looking for scheduling ideas and the number of personnel that it would take to operate effectively.
Please go to the San Antonio Crime Scene Investigators Association website and contact the board members with your question. They are a Civilian CSI working in a major metro city and can let you know the ins and outs completely of how the unit works.
My department has roughly 165 officers and a night time population of 67,000 citizens. I am one of 4 crime scene personnel for my department and we also handle evidence to include marijuana testing. The four of us rotate on call status every week with each person basically being on call once a month. We have two personnel working during the hours of 8:00-16:30, one person from 11:30-20:00, and the last from 15:30-24:00. We do not have anyone working from 24:00-08:00 during the week so those times we are on call status. We have one person whose work week if from Sunday-Thursday and the rest are from Monday-Friday. We have been working this schedule for over 9 years and there are minimal complaints. If are working on getting a fifth person and they would cover the other hours during the week but the weekends would still be open.
Our team obviously handles all major scenes, we do not attend autopsies, the case detective attends those and the ME handles photography and evidence collection so they just hand everything over to the detective to bring it back to evidence. We do however handle the small cases as well such as vehicle b&e's, suspicous activity (the cath all case type) and all other property crimes. We are a busy unit but the job gets done. If our department had 400 officers we probably have to more than double our unit but without knowing the crime stats that is just a guess.
I am currently interning for a large department. The Evidence Collection Unit here, has 12 techincians. There are 4 shifts, each containing 3 technicians. Three shifts rotate days and evenings, and one that stays on midnights. The day shift works 6:30 - 14:30, the evening shift works 14:30 - 22:30 and midnights works the remaining times. Each shift works 6 days and is off for 3. If they work days for 6 days, when they return after their 3 day break they work evenings. Then, after their next 3 day break, returns to days. At this point, it is a matter of lining up so that every shift is filled.