Collaborators: Criminal Justice Specialists and Forensic Laboratorians
Name a television crime show, Law & Order, CSI, Hawaii-5-0, Monk, even Psych and I will tell you I religiously watch them all. I particularly love, love, love the weekly series titled, COPS.
I become mesmerized by the "Bad Boys" reggae theme song played every week during the opening scene depicting the fast paced alley running and chain link fence jumping characters. I literally do LOL belly laughs when the camera stays focused on the feet of the suspect as he wisps past; followed by the heavy feet of the police officers; ending with the camera man's ballet leaping feet as they all trample through the weeds landing not so softly onto concrete pavement. Each week, I keep waiting for the shaky hand holding the camera to drop the equipment during the chase.
Inclusion of Labs in Crime Solving
Utilizing a lab to fight crime is considered a relatively young field. In fact, I heard somewhere (perhaps, in a CSI episode) that the official crime laboratories didn't come into existence until the 1920s. Over the years, it became clear to federal, state and local law authorities that hard scientific evidence could be important solving and proving crimes.
As a result of this new found knowledge, the government entities pushed for formalizing the use of laboratorians in crime fighting activities. With all of the new technological advances being created on a daily basis, criminal justice specialists will have at their disposal even greater clinical data to provide the legal system with.
Lions Den or Jail House Pen
The word ‘forensic' is Latin and is based on the legal Roman system in which the criminal and the accuser would be given a chance to provide their side of the story in an open arena forum. The person providing the worst speech was usually the one found at fault. And shortly after, the polished speaker would be set free, while the guilty person with the sub par speech skills would be lead to the den of fierce man eating loins. Convincing the judges of your honesty were primarily based on subjective information of how you looked (i.e. calm) and how well you spoke (i.e. eloquent) during deliberations.
DNA Is a Household Word
As a result of many infamous reality television crime cases aired on national television, just about every lay person has some basic understanding of DNA profiling that serologists perform. DNA workups have come to be relied upon because of its ability to objectively analyze the accused individual.
DNA profiles have all but replaced the older methods of blood typing as a primary evidence mechanism. However, it should be noted that DNA analysis while often irrefutable, does have an exceptionally small number of cases (i.e., one in a billion) where false-positive rates occur.
In the affairs of crime fighting, the criminal justice specialists have come to rely on laboratorians, so much so that lately the media has been beating the drums regarding forensic labs inundated with caseloads and the need to increase the laboratory tech hires to change the slow turn-around for test results. A conclusion can only be made from this outcry that the collaborative partnership of science and law which began in the 1920s is more relevant and important than ever.
A Rant and A Wish
Since the theme of this blog is on joint efforts, I wish the entertainment business would work collaboratively and hire a consultant from the American Society of Clinical Pathology (ASCP) for input on how real laboratorians dress for work.
Watching, CSI episodes stir up jealousy in that the laboratorians are always wearing custom made tight fitting tailor suits and barely there lab jackets. And let us not mention the impossible balancing act on Manolo Blahnik six inch spike heels during specimen collection. Furthermore, slow motion camera shots of lab techs arriving to work exiting sleek convertible Mercedes and shiny black Cadillac Escalades cars is a bit over the top. Every single CSI crime lab tech is portrayed as sexy, never-break-a-sweat models.
If television has to show laboratorians at work, I am all for realism. One day soon, I hope to see a COPS episode where the camera man films an extra pair of fast running feet, namely those of a laboratory tech. Technicians are the only missing element from the chase scenes. What a thrill it would be to see real laboratorians, wearing their well worn lab coats jumping fences in dog-eared gym shoes, along with police officers in pursuit of the alleged perpetrator.
And what more reliable method of chain of custody could occur? Just think of it, the lab specimens would be obtained from directly from the suspect right there at the scene of the crime, broadcast live on national television. Now that's entertainment!