Civilians hired for positions previously held by officers in Tulare County

TULARE COUNTY, Calif. (KFSN) -- The Tulare County Sheriff's Office is making changes to some of their positions. They're now hiring civilians for jobs that used to be held by sworn officers.

Mandi Van Buren is trained to look for DNA. She said, "I've been interested in forensics my whole life."

After spending seven years working for Utah's Department of Justice, she's the newest field evidence technician at the Tulare County Sheriff's Office. She's bringing her skills to solve crimes in the Central Valley.

"You can get DNA, full DNA profiles just from trace DNA, somebody touching an item," said Van Buren.

What makes her even more unique is that she's not a sworn officer. She hasn't had law enforcement training, but she's had extensive training in collecting evidence.

"There's far more training that she has and able to bring to our department than what we've historically seen in the past," said Tulare County Sheriff Mike Boudreaux.

Boudreaux has recently hired four civilians for positions previously held by officers. He introduced them this week to the Board of Supervisors.

"We're getting a higher quality candidate in those positions and it really moves our department forward into the future," said Boudreaux.

Hiring civilians for positions previously held by sworn officers is not a new thing; it's a trend that's moving across the country.

Sworn officers don't receive the specialized training someone like Van Buren has unless they go to additional school. Moving trained civilians into these type of positions also frees up more officers to be in the field. It saves tax dollars too.

"Police officers are very expensive to train and to hire," said Boudreaux.

Van Buren responds to crime scenes and collects evidence. She said, "It's like a puzzle finding all the pieces that you need to and putting it together." Then she takes her time processing each item, hoping to solve the case.

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