Thursday, June 18, 2015

Speaking of that...

My previous post made me remember something I was thinking about the other day.

I'd like to see a court-ordered documentary by the team of Bellisario, Bruckheimer, and Wolf on forensic investigations, and the reality  of  a crime lab.  Two hours. It would be provided free to every court system in the country and run on a loop in jury waiting rooms.

Several years ago Mrs. Drang was a volunteer at the USO lounge at Sea-Tac Airport. One of the ladies she was paired up with was a forensic technician at the local crime lab, and taught classes on it at a local community college. She used to assign CSI as homework, "Spot the mistakes!" Starting with crime lab workers collecting evidence at the crime scene.

One semester the school she was teaching at saw a spike in enrollments and realized that the proliferation of forensic crime shows was making the classes extremely popular, so they started advertising the classes as "Guaranteeing a job in the forensic field!" and she had to threaten to quit, since neither she nor they could guarantee any such thing: Given these shows' popularity, even if a student graduated with a perfect 4.0 average, it just isn't that big a field.

The big fancy crime labs you see on TeeVee? There are only a couple, nationwide. DNA analysis takes lots longer than they show, and nearly always has to be sent off to somewhere else. Most of the forensic evidence is collected by uniformed officers with some specialized training.

And most criminal investigations bear a lot more resemblance to what my father was doing in the early 60s than anyone on TV wants you to believe. Computers help a lot, but it still amounts to footwork.

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