10 Forensic Techniques Done Badly on TV


The Actors Portray Real Scenarios

In an episode of "CSI" called "Hitting for the Cycle" (which refers to a grisly bet among Vegas cast members about whether they will see a homicide, a suicide, as well as natural and accidental deaths all in one night) shows one of the lead characters, Nick Stokes, bouncing between a crime scene at a pool and the forensic laboratory, all the while speculating on what happened to the murder victim [source: cbspressexpress.com].

In other episodes, the CSI crew carries guns, grills suspects and makes arrests. But none of that would ever happen. In fact, with very few exceptions, crime scene investigators aren't even sworn law enforcement officers; rather, most are civilians with specific scientific backgrounds, which helps them properly collect and evaluate DNA and other evidence [source: Love]. "Crime scene investigators are forensic specialists. What they are good at is identifying and collecting and evaluating evidence," says Jeffrey Love, who used to head up a CSI department in Orange County, Calif. "Forensic evidence technicians have morphed into super investigators [on the shows]."

Why are very few CSI personnel actual cops? Money. It's much cheaper to hire civilians than it is to add a police officer with full benefits [source: Love].

On the next page, we'll find out just how well TV's forensic pros handle the crime scenes they encounter.