Anyone who turns on their TV will notice an abundance of criminal science shows.
Programmers like CSI, NCIS and Criminal Minds have become increasingly popular over the last few years and put a spotlight on criminal science technology.
There is such a heavy focus on criminal science technology that many people believe that by watching these types of TV shows it somehow makes them an expert in the field!
While watching television shows like CSI might make you a expert on the TV guide, there is a lot that is not shown or explained in the short 60 minute window the program has to offer. Here is a look at some of the aspects of criminal science technology you won’t learn about while watching CSI.
Realistic Times for Test Results and Forensic Evidence Analysis
In criminal science shows test results like DNA analyses and toxicology reports will generally come back to the scientists within a matter of hours. What the show doesn’t tell you is that the realistic time for test results, forensic evidence and analysis can be anywhere from a couple of days to weeks or even months. This delay can be a result of the lack of available technology or simply just a backlog in the laboratory that runs the analysis of the data.
Limitations of Lab Equipment
While much of the criminal science technology that you see on the TV shows is based on real-life machinery and science, the majority of criminal science labs do not contain the necessary means to run this type of expensive equipment. A lot of the technology that is used in TV shows requires state-of-the-art computers, microprocessors and lab gear. Due to many federal and local budget cuts criminal science departments do not have access to these valuable resources and therefore the laboratory is often reliant upon older technology to analyze the data.
Specific Individualized Roles
Criminal science technology in the real world is often broken down into several different roles. Generally, they’ll be specifically assigned roles based on the area of study and specialty of the criminal forensic scientist. This means that there will be an individual who studies DNA, an individual who studies tire tracks and an individual who specializes in toxicology. Unlike on TV an individual criminal forensic scientist focuses on one aspect of the crime scene and gathers the data that is reliant upon their area of specialty, rather than assessing the scene as a whole and drawing conclusions.
Juggling Multiple Cases
The average criminal forensic scientist will be juggling anywhere from 20 to 100 cases at a time. This is because a local forensic lab can be overwhelmed with close to 50,000 cases in one year. Those that study criminal science technology must learn to multitask and work on various cases at one time.
After watching shows like CSI you might feel as though you’ve gained an understanding of what the everyday life of a criminal scientist is like. In reality, these television shows really don’t depict a completely accurate picture of the life of someone working in criminal science technology.