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A rare look inside the San Diego Sheriff's Crime Lab

The lab is hiring! They're holding an open house on June 24 starting at 1:00 p.m. Starting salary for a criminalist is $83K - $102K a year.

SAN DIEGO — The San Diego County Sheriff's Department's Regional Crime Lab is opening its doors to the public on Friday for an open house for job applicants.

It's the first time in years the lab has had nine job openings for criminalists. The open house at the crime lab will be held June 24 from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. at 5590 Overland Avenue.

TV shows like CSI and NCIS have made the field attractive to a lot of people. According to the department, typically they have 150 applicants for just one position.

"The TV shows have definitely put the forensic world into a different light," said Supervising Criminalist Lauren Sautkulis. "What probably drew me in was those TV shows back when I started 20 years ago."

Sautkulis said unlike what you see on television, criminalists don't carry firearms or run in stiletto heels. They're scientists and evidence technicians. 

"The difference between what’s happening on a TV show and Hollywood and what we’re doing here, is mainly time. And the technology looks a little different in the lab," Sautkulis said. "Things take a little longer they usually aren’t happening overnight."

Sautkulis gave CBS 8 a rare look inside the crime lab. We saw the forensic biology lab where they analyze DNA samples.

"A case could have fourteen samples for one case, or you could have a bunch of cases [with] one item each," she said.

We also went inside the trace evidence unit and met Criminalist Chris Vance who was confirming if a white crystal substance was methamphetamine. 

He put the substance under a microscope and used a computer program to confirm it was indeed pure meth. 

"I receive ten to fifteen drug cases a day," Vance said. "We open them up, take notes on what’s in there, it could be pills, liquid or powder."

CBS 8 also got a look inside the firearms unit.

Criminalist Scott Hoopes uses techniques to identify the type of gun used in a crime. He can also link bullets and cartridge cases to the weapons that fired them.

The open house at the crime lab will be held June 24 from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. at 5590 Overland Avenue.

To be eligible, you must have a Bachelor's Degree in a hard science such as chemistry or biology.

For more details, click here.

WATCH RELATED: Inside look at the San Diego County Sheriff's Department | Recruiting Open House (June 2022).

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