I follow CSI almost religiously. The original one, not the spinoffs (CSI: Miami and CSI: New York). Same goes for Criminal Minds and Bones. CSI is about the work of forensics, while Criminal Minds is about profiler, and Bones is about forensic anthropologist. Both CSI and Criminal Minds are the product of CBS, Bones is FOX’s. If I have to play favorites, CSI will be my numero uno. It’s not because of the good looks of the actors/actresses nor the fancy clothes they have on. Infacts, according Australian Institute of Crimoinology, Detective-inspector Bob Sitlington of Victoria Police’s Forensic Services (Australia), a police forensic veteran, compares Victoria Police’s crime scene examiners with those portraying the same role on television: “We’re not dressed in the latest Pierre Cardin suits, rolling into crime scenes driving Hummers, looking like models, words of wisdom constantly flowing from our mouths. It’s just not like that.”
I bet he’s referring to Gil Grissom (CSI) and Jason Gideon (Criminal Minds).
Yeah… it’s Hollywood, man. Besides, CSI does have a ‘real forensic person’ as the executive story editor. Liz Devine, 42, single mother of two. She worked for 15 years for the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department as the crime scene investigator. “It’s a very different sort of adrenaline rush,” she said. “You know, actors the caliber of Billy and Marg, saying words that you write, it’s very exciting stuff.” She’s the one who’s to blame for all ‘words of wisdom’ you hear in the show.
Watching the first season of CSI, I was impressed of how state-of-the-art their labs are. How fast they got the result, just put a tiny portion of an evidence in a magic machine, and… voila! just in seconds, results are ready to be read from the reports printed out. In reality? CNN.com wrote, CSI experts said they usually have specialties, wait weeks or months for test results and don’t question suspects, spending most of their time hunched over books and microscopes in laboratories. Most CSI labs and morgues, moreover, are not as clean or state-of-the-art as those on the TV show. Miami medical examiner Dr. Satish Chundru also claims that the TV series are often misleading in regularly pinpointing a time of death and getting quick and conclusive test results, especially for DNA.”You can’t just stick a swab in a computer and it spits out an answer,” he said. “It takes time, sometimes months.”
While the Aussies commented, testing time for DNA at their lab varies greatly from what’s portrayed on television. Dr Peta Stringer is the manager of the DNA branch. She has been a forensic scientist for 23 years.”Television forensic laboratories always seem to be able to get the results within an unrealistic time frame. They never portray a real laboratory’s work pressure,” she said. “Some tests are more complex than others. Testing clean clothing is easier than clothing from a sexual assault that can be dirty and bloody. With those samples, before we test for DNA, we make notes about the distribution of bloodstains, location and quantity of seminal fluid, presence of hair as well as describing the damage to the clothing. This is a complex and lengthy process.”
Well, I kind of knew it…
The only thing that bugs me is how the agents in the show are so obsessed with darkened rooms. “What’s wrong with turning on the light switch on the wall? Any crime scene examiner will tell you the best way to search a crime scene is in daylight, not under false light and particularly not under high-powered torches because of the shadows they cast,” said Insp Sitlington.
In some episodes of CSI, the forensics tend to get too personal whether or not to find a person is guilty or innocent. Dr Stringer mentioned, “We’re not particularly interested in whether there’s a conviction or not. It’s up to the jury and judges to take our information and use it as they see appropriate.” As the result, in the US, judges now refer to the ‘CSI effect’ a phenomenon resulting from juries accepting as real the tests and procedures they have watched countless time on forensic TV shows. Nevertheless, these TV shows have boosted interest in forensics as a career (CNN.com). Forensic anthropologist Joanne Devlin said demand has reached record levels as the National Forensic Academy, where she teaches, reflective of a growing trend in the field nationwide.
>> This is a great site to educate yourself about crime scene investigator (required Flash)