RCIPS trainee promoted to CSI officer

| 02/08/2019
CNS Local Life
New Scenes of Crime Officer Tiffany Rankine working in the field

(CNS Local Life): New Scenes of Crime Officer (SOCO) Tiffany Rankine may not look physically intimidating as she stands at only five feet tall, but her job with the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service doesn’t require her to be. “I don’t necessarily have the stature of a crime fighter,” Rankine said, “but gathering forensic evidence is an important way to fight crime.”

At the beginning of last month, Rankine was confirmed in rank as a full Scenes of Crime Officer in the RCIPS Crime Scene Investigation Unit after two years and four months as a trainee. She said in an RCIPS press release that this was the next step on a professional journey that began many years ago, stemming from her love of science, including her enjoyment of television shows such as CSI.

While pursuing her associate of science degree at the University College of the Cayman Islands (UCCI), she decided to enroll in a forensics-related internship to gain hands-on experience in a field that has always interested her, the release said. She spent two summers working in the Health Services Authority’s Forensics Lab, where she said she first realised that the work was a lot different than how it was portrayed on TV, but she remained interested in the field. After leaving UCCI, she began pursuing a bachelor’s degree in forensic science at the University of Tampa.

Academic and financial difficulties prevented her from continuing on campus after she had completed her first year and she returned to her native Cayman, the release said. When a position opened for a Scenes of Crime trainee with the RCIPS, that was the opportunity she had been looking for.

“To be a full SOCO you need several years’ experience, whereas the requirements for the trainee position were all things I already had,” she said. Rankine was so determined to secure the position that she took an online foundations of forensic photography course since that skill was recommended for the job. Her initiative paid off, and she started work as a Scenes of Crime trainee in March 2017.

She said that finally being able to work on actual crime scene investigations was even more of an eye-opener than what she did in the HSA’s Forensics Lab. While less glamourous than the CSI portrayed on TV, she found the work rewarding.

She recalled one case in which an elderly woman living on her own had her home broken into multiple times, and was feeling understandably shaken. Rankine was able to recover a fingerprint during the crime scene investigation, which eventually led to a conviction, and to the elderly woman being able to regain some peace of mind.

During her time as a trainee, she progressed from being supervised to working cases on her own. The RCIPS also arranged additional training for her, including a course in Miami shortly after she was hired.

CNS Local Life
Rankine says people would be shocked by the amount of paperwork the job entails

Rankine said she owes her success to her colleagues in the unit, who have supported and guided her as a trainee. “I am blessed to have them, they have been great teachers. They are very patient, and extremely knowledgeable,” she added.

She advised young Caymanians interested in any particular field to stick to their passions and not be discouraged, even if they encounter obstacles. For those interested in forensics, she recommended getting firsthand experience whenever possible. “I would definitely encourage people to do internships. A lot of people are interested because it seems so cool and glamourised, but then when they get into it they realise it’s not for them,” she said.

To help clarify misconceptions people may have about day-to-day forensic detective work, Rankine and her colleague Brittney Parchman, who was the first trainee confirmed as a full Scenes of Crime Officer, created a brochure about the Crime Scene Investigation Unit called “Things CSI Shows Get Wrong”.

Two examples are the idea that DNA results can be received within a matter of minutes, when in reality it can take as long as four to six weeks, and the notion that blood glows under UV light, which it doesn’t, Rankine said, adding that the amount of paperwork involved in the job is also often a shock to people.

Detective Sergeant Marcia Codner, who heads the Scenes of Crime Office and has supervised Rankine throughout her training, said of the new officer: “Tiffany has been passionate about working towards becoming a full CSI member of the team and has taken on challenges in areas that she had no prior knowledge in. She is a great ambassador to other young Caymanians who may be interested in crime scene investigation. We are proud of her.”

Rankine’s next goal is to complete her bachelor’s degree, which she is studying for online through the University of Maryland University College, followed by pursuing a master’s degree. She has no plans to leave the Cayman Islands or the RCIPS, but wants to continue to contribute to the community as much as she can, Rankine said. 

“I like working here where I’m from, serving the people that I know,” she added. “We view Cayman as such a peaceful place, even though there are moments when it’s not. So the fact that I get to be part of the effort to make it safer, and to try to get it back to the days when you could just leave your door open, is really nice.”

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Category: Civil Service, Local News, Police

Comments (2)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Congratulations. Well deserved.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Yeaaaa idk about unna but I personally would not want it announced to the entire world that I investigate crimes. Wrong people to be targeted by.