By Savitre “Rapture” Schaefferkoetter, Staff Writer

Jaclyn Smith, a young professional currently employed as a crime scene technician at the Wilmington Police Department in North Carolina, has had a vast forensic science career since her late night studying days at the University of Central Florida.

Smith may share the same first and last name as the “Charlie’s Angels” actress from the ’70s, but her cultural makeup serves a surprise; she is part Cuban, having grown up in the heavily Latino populated city of Hialeah, Fla. Smith was often discriminated against by other Latinos who teased her for being a “gringa” and not Hispanic enough, but her anglicized name worked to her advantage for most other situations with potential discrimination.

What drew Smith to this field was wanting to bring “justice for victims and help[ing] to avoid wrongful convictions.” She is a natural puzzle solver with a strong moral compass, and Naturally, she is proud of being part of a justice system that assists in proving either guilt or innocence.

Part of her program at UCF included completing an internship closer to home at the Miami-Dade Police Department, as well as meeting the requirements for a minor in chemistry. Smith’s forensic science career first had her starting out as a physical science technician at the Navy Drug Screening Laboratory. She was then employed as a police emergency communications officer at Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office.

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Jaclyn Smith, crime scene technician for Wilmington Police Department in North Carolina, analyzes evidence.

For Smith, a day in the life as a crime scene technician involves collecting and processing evidence from the crime scene. This includes documenting and recording items of importance for the investigation. Her shift is from 4 p.m. to 2 a.m., with a fellow technician overlapping, starting at 8 p.m.. She works four days on, six days off, and in alternating months, she gets two extra days off.

In response to such a nontraditional schedule, she remarks, “I have always been a night person so working nights is great.”

Smith also gave advice on how to avoid being dragged down by the harsh reality of the crime scenes she goes to. Rather than thinking emotionally about the loss of a loved one, one must look at the scene as a student of forensic science, open to a new opportunity to learn techniques and skills that can make one perform better at their job. As with any other kind of job, separate oneself from the situation and accomplish the duties to the best of one’s abilities.

So how is it like for a South Floridian to live in North Carolina? She noticed the lack of palm trees in her new environment. However, she is enjoying the changing seasons that the Atlantic coast has to offer by spending time exploring her new home, enjoying nature or a different restaurant from day-to-day. She even experiments with new recipes in her home kitchen. That is not at all unusual. After all, cooking and science require patience, attention to detail and passion.

 


Featured & Article Image: Savitre Schaefferkoetter