View Full Version : CSI Question, but factual!
09-28-2004, 10:26 AM
Although the CSI shows are entertaining, I question the depiction of CSI personel in the investigation of the crimes. With the Sheriff's and local Police Departments I'm familiar with, in Eastern Missouri, crime scene investigators gather evidence and examine same in the lab, but they don't question suspects, and in many cases are not sworn officers. They are unarmed and don't have arrest powers. They are non-LEO employyes of the department involved.
Can any dopers confirm the existance of CSI persons as depicted on the TV shows? Other than perhaps Vegas and Miami-Dade?
If the mods think this belongs in Cafe Society please move it. I posted it here because I'm looking for facts.
09-28-2004, 01:01 PM
Good question. It doesn't seem like sworn detectives in big cities would want to give up much of the investigation.
One possibility is that some of this special staff is from the medical examiner's/coroner's office. This is done, I believe, in Crossing Jordan.
09-28-2004, 01:53 PM
Nope, there are no crime scene units units anywhere that operate like they do on CSI. If an agency is large enough to have a specialized crime scene unit, then all they would do is process the scene. The crime scene techs process the scene, the detectives do the investigation.
Most agencies that have a crime scene investigation unit have policies that prevent the investigating detectives from ever entering the crime scene. This is to prevent cross-contamination.
When I was the only detective in my department, I did the whole thing (processing, interviewing, investigation, etc). The only thing I didn't do was any scientific testing on evidence. That was done by the state crime lab.
09-28-2004, 02:45 PM
Thanks for the reply. The stories are usually good, but I always wondered what the detectives in Vegas and Miami-Dade did with their time.
Perhaps Vegas and Miami-Dade are organized this way. But somehow I doubt it. And a 60K Hummer2 for a CSI to ride around in?
09-28-2004, 03:21 PM
A friend who works in the Crime Scene dept of the Minneapolis, MN police dept once commented that there were 2 major inaccuracies in the CSI program:
1) Real-world tests come up "inconclusive" much more often then is shown on this program, especially since the raw material for the test is often sparse or contaminated. On TV, the tests always seem to be very black or white; while real police work is very often shadings of gray. *
2) Real CSI people do only CSI work. They take samples, do lab tests, etc. They do not question suspects, etc. His joke was that CSI labs was where they assigned the cops whose interpersonal skills were so bad that they didn't want them ever talking to the public.
[* P.S. Another item he mentioned was that nobody on the TV show ever talks about the cost of these CSI tests. Many of the tests are quite expensive to run, and police labs all operate on limited budgets. He said it's common in their lab to discuss the costs vs. benefits of specific tests for a specific case, and decide whether or not to do a test. Often the lab tech evaluates the sample, and cancels a test if he thinks it's so poor that it's unlikely to provide a useful test result.]
09-28-2004, 06:34 PM
I, erm, got ahold of the Chicago Police staff radio identifier list and took another look at in with this OP in mind. There's a few radios assigned to evidence technicians and a few more for ET supervisiors. There's about 12 assigned in total. This would support the 'no separate autonomous department/division' explaination.
Does the state crime labs generally work on scene or is evidence sent to the lab? Some combination of both, with the bigger guns coming out as needed, seems reasonable but jurisdiction and turf must come up from time to time.
09-28-2004, 07:35 PM
It's great to get factual information, particularly when it seems to confirm my own thoughts on the subject.
I live in Warren County Missouri and this afetnoon I saw the crime scene unit from St. Charles county in the area. I suspect that Warren County contracts with them for services that are not needed too often.
I wonder how many TV watchers believe all police departments are as depicted on CSI?
09-28-2004, 07:51 PM
The lady in the crime lab building for the state police in my area said no one in their building ever goes outanywhere. The claim that that sun is only a rumor, and crime scene evidence is a box full of stuff that mostly just sits there for six months, and then gets sealed up and sent to a warehouse.
And they send out DNA stuff for testing, and it takes six weeks, if you have a priority.
09-28-2004, 08:03 PM
I've never watched CSI, but there is no one person who can do everything a crime scene investigation entails.
A person does not get assigned a particular crime and then go collect everything and analyze everything under the microscope and do all that crap himself. There is no position that does this. Investigators are highly specialized and ranger from Sworn Detectives to PHD holding Scientists.
Even when you break things down and look at JUST their Crime Laboratory Bureau, you can still divide tasks. You have the Analytical Section, the Serology/Biology Section, and the Forensic Identification Section.
The Forensic Identification Section is even divided further into Firearms Identification and Questioned Documents Unit.
There is no Super Genius Cop who is both a kick ass crime fighter detective and a Scientist who happens to be a specialist in microbiology, chemistry, ballistics/physics, and every other necessary field.
The police department has detectives to investigate (including interviewing, receiving information from the crime lab, obtaining necessary warrants and completing the arrest), non-sworn technicians to gather evidence at the crime scene, and specialized scientists to test and examine the evidence.
For Information specific to Miami-Dade, visit these sites:
Crime Lab Bureau (http://www.mdpd.com/clb.htm)
Crime Scene Investigation CSI (http://www.mdpd.com/csi.htm)
Criminal Investigations Division (http://www.mdpd.com/cid.htm)
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