CSI Factual "Inaccuracies"
Below is a list of factual "inaccuracies" people have sent in, and a few that I noticed myself in the first season. Many of these have changed, and are, indeed accurate...being confirmed by professionals in the field. Some of them have yet to be refuted, so they might be inaccuracies, or they might not...I will keep them all listed here... If you have any comments you would like added here (with or without your name) e mail me at JBoze3131@hotmail.com By the way, I am clueless to most of the scientific stuff in general...
("Feeling The Heat")
The baby dies from over heating in the back of his father's car. But there's more to the story (of course). The lab finds "organophosates" in the babies system, which leads Catherine to search for pesticides in the families storage shed. She pulls out a bottle of weed killer and takes it away as evidence. However organophosates are insecticides, not weed killers. And yes they are toxic in concentrated form, about the same as aspirin in fact, which can also poison a child.
Surrey, BC Canada
(general factual errors)
In episodes where CSI are holding guns,
they are holding their guns pointing up. When clearing the
scene or looking for suspects, the proper way to point the muzzle
of a gun is downward. ("X-Files" also made the
mistake of pointing the muzzle up.) The reason one would
not want to point their muzzle up is in case the suspect scares
them or there is a scuffle with a suspect, the gun can go off and
shoot the law enforcement or CSI in the face, neck or head.
Where would they rather get shot, in the face or in the foot?
Also, you see the CSI's in the episodes searching for evidence outside at night, but the correct protocol would be to wait until daylight to look for evidence. That way, you won't miss any evidence in the dark. You also see Grissom looking for evidence in a dark room instead of turning on the light (to see what the suspect or victim sees), but again, the correct protocol would be to turn on the light to search for evidence.
(in regards to Jackpot, NV- episode: "Jackpot")
I am a minister, and served for 18 months in Jackpot Nevada. When I heard, tonight, in the opening dialog that Jackpot was the site, I was very excited, because I loved the people, the town, the weather and the landscape! I was VERY disappointed! The main street was wrong, the vegetation was wrong, the buildings were wrong, and everything was wrong! Did any of your people ever GO to Jackpot before you decided to place a murder there? I'd like to know where you did film the episode. I will continue to watch, but I now have a high degree of scepticism.
Though we live in Nampa, Idaho, and
are avid fans of both CSI Las Vegas and CSI Miami, Thursday
nights (11-6-03) episode of CSI Las Vegas was about as far off of
location as they can get. Jackpot, NV, where the
main story line of the episode evolves, is actually located
just over the border (and south of) Twin Falls, Idaho. Been
there too many times on the weekends for a little rest and
relaxation from the daily grind with my wife. As far as I
know, there are NO fir or cypress anywhere close, as it's
located in a valley of the high deserts that Southern Idaho and
Northern Nevada are well known for. Take a search on any
search engine and type in Jackpot, NV, and take a look for
yourself. The whole of Jackpot, NV, outside of a minor
growth in housing, consists mainly of 5 casino's,
Cactus Pete's being the largest, a liquor store, minor volunteer fire
department, and a gas station, not to forget the one stop light
between Cactus Pete's and The Horse Shoe Casino. Most of
the employees of the casino's (all 5 of them) live and commute
from the Twin Falls area. Outside of the Nevada State
Police, I have never seen, and doubt Jackpot has it's own
police or sheriffs station. Hey, if they are going to use
a known location like Jackpot, NV, they should go there
to do the shoot. Don't try to palm off some location
that looks to be in the Sierra's somewhere between Reno and Lake
Tahoe, or where ever else they chose to place Jackpot, but it
sure the heck wasn't located where Jackpot actually is!
Thanks for allowing me to sound off Don and Ellen Oremus
(in regards to Gil's migraines- episode: "Strip Strangler")
Hello, Josh! I just came across your site and as a newbie on CSI, I find it VERY interesting! Specially the inaccurancies page. It's fun exploring it and I think I'll take some more time exploring the rest of your great site! Please keep up your good work! I'd like to add something to the post mentioned in the subject line, though. Comment: Migraine symptoms can vary from one person to the next but often include nausea, vomiting, visual distortion, extreme sensitivity to sound and/or light, "navigational" difficulty My two cents: I suffer from Migraine, too. Granting, it's a milder form of your descibed migraine, but I have it anyway. When I'm suffering severe migraine (for me at least), I can't get out of bed, let alone drive a vehicle. But on my 'normal' migraine, I would act just like Grissom did. Put on some music I feel comfy with (to get sidetracked from the hammer in my head), take my meds and lie down on the couch with my hand over my eyes to shield the light out a bit. When someone yanks me up like Cath did Grissom, I wouldn't throw up, just be dizzy (which could explain Grissom's slightly absent look for a second or two while Catherine took a look at his meds). But after all, CSI is just s show and certainly won't claim accurancy in everything they show. As I said, those are just my two cents. From Germany, Stevie
(in regards to Gil's hearing loss)
Hi! If you can forward this or post it it will be helpful to CSI viewers. They identify Gil as having otosclerosis and say it is irreversible. Hello!!! There is an operation called a stapendectomy that will reverse any otosclerotic's problem. If that doesn't work there's always hearing aids. Either way the condition is not permanent and irreversible. It is easy to fix with hearing aids or surgery. Thank you, Maureen Audiologist
When Grissom mentions on one episode that "Peter Parker was bitten by a radioactive spider back in the fifties" he was wrong. The first issue of any comic book to feature Spider-man was "Amazing Fantasy #15" which came out in 1963. Hayward Simpson.
Thanks to Donna for this piece of trivia, and sorry it took so long to add! DECEMBER 2002 and Before-
Joshua, I've really enjoyed reading your website, almost as much as I enjoy the TV show. I'm not a crime Scene tech but I am a Forensic Photographer. So no I don't photograph dead bodies, as anyone who watches enough CSI should know, I photograph evidence. the word forensic refers to evidence basically. My Dad always tried to call me "Quincy" and I had to remind him that that wasn't my job. (Thank God!) Anyway, besides the silly inaccuracies like DNA results in a couple of hours and the CSI's entering fingerprints into AFIS themselves, I really enjoy the show and its great that the world is finally getting to see what all is involved in a criminal investigation. One of the points I really feel should be made is that AFIS can take a long time to search its records, afterall its a country wide data base. They usually need more than 9 points for a good Ident. Also, there is always a real live fingerprint examiner that makes the final comparison and at least another fingerprint certified examiner to make the Ident. The other inaccuracy I feel the need to point out, from a professional view point, is that the crime scene should be totally photographed before anything at all is altered. This is sometimes a problem for some law enforcement personnel, they often forget this little rule. A crime scene should be photographed totally inside and out documenting accurately where it is and how everything appears when the officers arrived at the scene. Another thing, I noticed that Nick was using a ringlight to photograph a crimescene. Big no-no, ringlights only work well for close-up subjects. I let them slide with the over kill on the flash units they use, that could happen it they didn't know any better. I do know that the sound effects that they use are totally wrong for the cameras they are using. Yes, its a quibble but I do know how my camera is supposed to sound. thanx listening or rather reading my letter, Linda -----------------------------------------------------
Good evening. I'm
sorry I don't know the name of the episode but it is the
one where the paraglider falls to his death. Anyway, on the part where Marg
Helgenberger investigates the guy shot with the .50 cal gun. When she
approached the body she said the injury was through and through. There is
no way to know that without turning the body over. Also, that entry wound
was NOT that large. By the way, I am a general surgeon and I have treated a
lot of gunshot wounds. Thank you and good night.
Alan W, MD
I was looking at your "factual inaccuracies" page, and in the episode "And Then There Were None", you state that CSI's are civilians and must be accompanied by law enforcement officials. In the state of Oklahoma, our criminalists are commissioned just as our agents are. They carry badges and guns. I have not watched much of the series (I'm waiting for the DVD, darn it) but I've noticed that they carry guns, which would lead me to believe that they also are commissioned.
an employee of the Oklahmoa State Bureau of Investigation
Here's a factual error (or perhaps not). Caruso says they need to find someone who purchased insulin within the past 48 hours. Why? Unless I missed some other dialogue holding a clue as to why, an insulin dependent diabetic will not be able to wait to purchase insulin. They must carry it with them, *especially* when they travel. However, if he "smelled" from ketoacidosis, he went without insulin for a time or had something to eat that he shouldn't have had containing sugar (natural or otherwise). In any case, they will die within hours of missing a dose (usually 2 times per day). Further, if he eats honey, he will automatically go into ketoacidosis unless he takes insulin almost immediately. It is very doubtful that he would've purchased insulin in that time frame. Unless, of course, it just happened to be a very lucky day for the CSI team. Cindy (a nurse) P.S. Totally unrelated, but there are Angora Goats.
IN REPLY, I RECEIVED THIS E-MAIL/COMMENT:
Hi I love your CSI site, and the Factual Inaccuracies page is cool... I did however want to add a comment about someone's supposed correction... Cindy may claim to be a nurse (note to self: don't get sick in her hospital!) but I AM an insulin dependent diabetic. I live with the condition 24/7, and because it's a self managing condition, diabetics generally know a lot more than many Dr's and nurses, even some endos! She's told you absolute rubbish! We don't usually inject insulin 2x a day- some take it only once, some twice, some 3x, some 4 (that's me!) some even more, some wear an insulin pump! The is no 'usual' treatment dose timed, in fact pumping or 4x are the most common, but there is a lot of variation. We don't HAVE to carry it with us, I always do, but many DON'T! DKA (Diabetic Ketoacidosis) CAN come on quicker than she states. For example, you can take your regular doseage of insulin, don't eat anything containing sugar, or high GI (glycemic indexed) carbs (mashed potatoes for example can be absorbed as glucose in the body quicker than table sugar!!!) but you have an infection begining... your BGL (blood gluecose level) will still run high, often forming ketones quickly, ie DKA. Stress, hormones, injury, illness, medications, and many other things can affect BGL's, not just eating sugar or skipping insulin. Eating honey will not automatically put a diabetic into DKA, although it is excellent for treating hypos (hypoglycemia / low BGL) because of it's sugar value and it's semi liquid state... it can be eaten in moderation, especially if it's with a complex carb and some fatty protein to help slow absorbtion. There are NO forbidden foods for diabetics. We can even consume small ammounts of sugar safely, and if having a hypo it is necessary! I will NOT die within hours of missing a dose! That's the biggest boo-boo yet! Sorry, but I, like most diabetics, can go quite a while without injecting... I will get sicker and sicker and death is a risk, but it's not that quick! I went 3 weeks once (not by choice), was in DKA for most of it, and suffered some nerve dammage, lost 16kg, but survived. Hypos are often more immediately dangerous than hypers. Oh, and the clue she missed WAS that the suspect was in DKA... no self respecting diabetic is going to let themselves stay in DKA, we're going to go get insulin... hence they knew he would have bought it, because they knew he would know he had to! You do what you've got to do to live. The real leap there, was that they assumed ketoacidosis meant a diabetic... anorexics and alcoholics can also develop dangerous levels of ketones. Jacqueline. (Insulin dependent type 1 diabetic)
Hi I sent you an email a while back, commenting on a post reporting a supposed inacuracy in the episode with the diabetic. My reply to it isn't up yet - correcting all the false 'information' she spewed about diabetes, but I saw that episode again last night, and the nurse who wrote originally DID miss some dialogue, as she said. They knew he'd taken insulin within 2 days becase he was in DKA (diabetic ketoacidosis) at the time of the murder, but they knew he no longer was because he no longer smelled sickly sweet - 2 days later. Thanks, your site is fabulous!
I was a Crime Scene Analyst with LVMPD, on graveyard shift, for 7 years. I am now the Criminalistics Bureau Administrator for the Henderson Police Department, Henderson, Nevada (southeast corner of the Las Vegas Valley). I have overall responsibility for all crime scene and evidence processing in the fastest growing large city (population over 100K) in the U.S. Henderson has over 210,000 residents and gains over 1,000 new residents each month.
I will not try to defend the inaccuracies of the show, but I still find it entertaining. I also get several calls every week from people looking for jobs as a new CSI.
First of all, let me say that Anthony Zuiker and his fellow executive producers, co-executive producers, writers, etc., have taken a lot of cases based on fact, then done their best to make the stories "entertaining". So... there is a trade off. There are a LOT of things in the show that are accurate, there are others that are not. If anyone looks at some of the other police shows with as much scrutiny as is done with CSI, they may be just as disappointed. It all depends on your viewpoint. For instance, a lot of the Detectives I work with rib me about what they do on CSI. But, they never comment about the cop shows where some of the Detectives and Police Officers just point and some poor Crime Scene person immediately jumps, then works miracles during the time it takes the Detective to eat a sandwich. There are a lot of different levels and types of responsibilities and working relationships between Detectives and Crime Scene personnel throughout the Country.
Before Zuiker wrote C.S.I., he rode with all of our three shifts at LVMPD, including 2 or three weeks on graveyard with us. We swapped a lot of stories and gave him a lot of material and ideas. I gave Anthony copies of some of my lesson plans from a class I taught at UNLV called Crime Scene Investigation for Writers. He does a lot of research and has other writers who work with police agencies to gather more story ideas. In fact, at the International Association for Identification Conference in Las Vegas last month, we spent some time, including an interesting lunch, and some time between conference sessions, talking about "interesting" crime scenes with one of the shows writers. His name was also Josh (I don't remember his last name, but have his card at my office). Josh's brother (who I did not meet) also spent a good part of the week there listening to actual case histories and reviewing some of the state-of-the-art in crime scene and evidence processing equipment.
Anyway, back to your site. There are a lot of valid comments from readers, but please allow me to comment on just a few of them to clarify some things. I know, there are hundreds of different ways Police Departments do things, so there are very few things that are applicable in every situation.
EPISODE: "And Then There Were None"
Your readers comment: Cath and Sara arrive alone at the crime scene. In general, CSI's do not have authority over a crime scene and would have to be accompanied by law enforcement agents. They are civilians and cannot keep people out alone.
Ricks Comment: This could very well happen and does often at Metro (LVMPD). CSIs at LVMPD carry guns and MOST OFTEN work crime scenes alone or with fellow CSIs without any Police Officer present (actually they are CSAs at Metro but I will call them CSIs here because that is becoming the understood acronym thanks to the show). Sometimes the officers will wait at a scene until the CSI arrives, sometimes not. When they do, it is usually to brief the CSI about what happened, or to help secure a more extensive scene, or to make the victim feel better (now the fingerprint experts are here to help). The officers who do stay, are usually Patrol Officers who wait outside of the crime scene tape. When they work a homicide, the Homicide Detectives usually stay around only until the body is removed, then they go about their business, because they have a lot of work to do, and DO NOT need to supervise the CSIs. I have worked several death scenes where it takes the better part of a day, or more, before we can remove the body or bodies, and all Homicide Detectives have come and gone, getting some of their other tasks taken care of while we work the scene. We would call the Detective, when ready to have the Coroner Investigator remove the body, in case they want to be present. At other major crime scenes (suicide, OD, robbery, kidnap, rape, etc.), General Assignment Detectives or other Detectives may be in the scene for a while, but generally, the work and decisions within the scene are left to the senior CSI at the scene. As a matter of fact, at Metro and Henderson, we receive a briefing about what happened, or what we think happened, then the senior CSI (or CSI Supervisor) determines a course of action, in concert with his/her team of CSIs. Obviously, the more experience a CSI has, the less instruction, guidance or encouragement is needed. There is a very good working relationship between Detectives, other Officers, and the CSIs (CSAs) at LVMPD, and an even better relationship at my department in Henderson. Detectives and CSIs offer suggestions to each other, based on what one or the other may know or believe to be important. We keep each other updated during the course of the investigation.
I have personally had a few situations where I had confrontations with suspects or others at scenes when I was the only one there, or there were only other CSIs and myself (no cops). We even had one CSI who was attacked while working a rape scene. A second female was hiding under the bed at the scene and she thought he was a bad guy, he thought the female was a suspect, and the struggle was on.
I had a private security guard draw down on me while I was training a new CSI as she processed the exterior window of an apartment involved in a burglary. The Security Officer was taking cover behind part of a tree (yes we have a few of them). He yelled something at us and I yelled back at him to tell him who I was. In the dim light I saw his gun being raised toward us. I thought he was a suspect who had returned (or just a banger or other crook). I was starting to squeeze the trigger of my Glock as I saw a flash of light reflect off of his security guard badge on his shirt. I hesitated, then realized who he was. If not for his badge, I would have shot him.
We have had CSIs working alone at secure scenes, even homicides, only to discover a suspect hiding in a ceiling space, in a small cabinet, etc. We had one female processing a burglary at a restaurant. After she was done, she took the owner inside to ask him questions about possible items that had been removed and/or disturbed. There was a noise from under the owners desk in his office. They discovered the suspect under the desk.
One quiet Sunday night (about 2 or 3 AM), I was doing follow-up work on a homicide that had occurred the night before. I was alone at the scene, in a not-so-great part of town, but didn't feel unsafe. I actually had someone approach me with the intent of robbing me and taking my unmarked police vehicle. He was concealing something in his right hand, behind his back. As he kept approaching and I was shouting commands to him (which he basically ignored because I didnt have a badge [only an ID card] and he didnt see my gun). He kept saying youre no cop, you got no badge. I repeated that I was a police employee but he wasnt phased, even though I was raising my gun and pointing it at his chest. When I finally raised my gun to the level of his eyes (yes, center mass was the correct thing to do, but I wanted him to see that I was serious) and yelled some things (that I could never tell my kids), he finally believed I was going to shoot him if he didnt stop. He stopped. My mistake. He was nearly within an arms length of me. If he had a knife, I was dead. One more move, he was dead. I violated all of the rules that Police Officers are taught about safe distances. It was fight or flight and I was backed up against my car. But I was a civilian and we didnt get that training, believe it or not. I was concerned for my safety, but I was more concerned that if I shot this guy and there was nothing in his concealed hand, I would be tried and convicted by the press. Eventually, the guy started backing up, backed around the corner of a building and left. I was relieved that I didnt have to shoot him. As I was calming down, I finally called for backup and the guy was long gone.
We had one CSI at LVMPD taking photos of injuries to a female victim of domestic violence. No police officers remained at the scene. The victims husband came back and stormed into the house. The fight was on. Luckily, the CSI was one of the only CSIs at LVMPD who kept a pair of handcuffs with him and was able to subdue and secure the suspect until backup arrived.
We had one murder scene where all commissioned officers had gone and the CSIs were processing the residence. They heard a noise and discovered the murder suspect as he was climbing down from an attic access area in the ceiling of a small linen closet.
I could go on and on with other examples of situations civilian (and commissioned) CSIs have been in.
VARIOUS INACCURACIES IN ALL EPISODES
Your Readers comment: The CSI's almost never wear protective masks, which are needed so they don't "taint" crime scenes.
Ricks Comment: We usually didnt wear them because we were too macho. No one wanted to be the first to put one on. In 7 years, I may have worn a simple dust mask twice, never a respirator (except for Meth labs). We even had one victim, cut up into 7 separate parts, and wrapped in plastic. He was left in a vehicle during a long Las Vegas summer. You might imagine, when we took the vehicle to our processing garage at the Criminalistic Bureau (with the body inside) it stunk up the entire building. How many people put on masks? One. A female homicide detective. She was the only smart one. I am not saying we were right, but that is just the way it is. I can tell you there were times Id like to have worn something, but you didnt want the ribbing, so we just worked through it.
At LVMPD, they temporarily tried a policy to require CSIs to put Vicks Vapor Rub or Mentholatum (excuse the spelling) under our nose. That lasted about a day. Turns out, we heard that it only opened up the nasal passages more, possibly allowing more of the blood-borne pathogens in, so we stopped that practice in a hurry.
My CSIs in Henderson wear respirators now at crime scenes with putrified, decaying bodies when the smell is bad. One reason, to prevent inhalation of blood born pathogens. Another weve got past the macho stage and nobody cares. Our homicide detectives were the first to buy and use them, and we followed suit. Now, it is routine at nasty scenes.
Heres a trick some of my CSIs in Henderson use when they dont want to wear a respirator. They spray Fabreez inside a dust mask, then wear the mask. It works pretty well for quite a while.
Your readers comment: They usually wear normal street clothes, which never happens in the real world. They would be wearing sterile suits, as to not taint the crime scene, again.
Ricks Comment: I nearly ALWAYS wore street clothes. So did (and does) everyone else. We had a dress code. No blue jeans, shirt must have a collar, no big logos or writing on the shirts, etc. (We have the same basic rules in Henderson.) Once in a GREAT while, we may put a Tykvek suit over it, and/or wear booties over our shoes. Except for meth labs, I might have put on a Tyvek suit one or two times, no more, and I worked well over 130 homicides (stopped keeping track after that) and several hundred other sudden or suspicious deaths, suicides, etc. During my 13th month on the job (October 1994), I personally participated in 8 different homicides (yes, that was a bit unusual for new CSIs, but I had some previous experience in California and we were shorthanded on graveyard). I usually was the one who collected the evidence and did the diagram. I may have changed into a jumpsuit one time, but cant remember for sure. Actually, I dont think so. But, we all had them issued to us for digging up gravesites, etc.
Your readers comment: The CSI's carry guns. This is not the case in real life. Most CSI's are actually not cops at all, but instead civilian workers.
Ricks Comment: I addressed this a bit in an earlier comment. CSAs at LVMPD carry guns, my guys (guys includes the female CSIs) at Henderson PD dont (but I may have them start later if there is a need to do so). It often boils down to a management decision, and whether or not we want or can afford to use the Patrol Officer manpower to provide all of the security for the crime scene. In Henderson, we post Officers 24/7 when working a homicide, but not necessarily so on other types of crimes. For info, LVMPD CSIs dont carry badges, my CSIs do. I also have one Police Officer working for me who works as a full-time CSI. He carries a gun, a badge, and can make arrests.
For info, all North Las Vegas Police Department CSIs are commissioned officers (cops). They are considering a change to civilians, but it is still up in the air. I also have approx. 45 Police Officers who are Patrol Officers, and they process crime scenes from burglary, to robbery, rape, and some death investigations. We call them Field ID Techs when they are processing scenes.
Readers Comment: The CSI's make arrests. Refer to the last point. (see update below)
Ricks Comment: You are right, CSAs at LVMPD are not cops (but that was not always the case until only recently). Actually, until the last one retired about a year ago, LVMPD had cops as CSIs. Many years ago, the Crime Lab (Crime Scene guys) were all cops. As they retired or went back to the street, they were replaced with civilians. When I started there in 1993, we had about 6 cops out of 17 CSIs. One of them, who was a CSA Supervisor then, now works part-time for me in Henderson. LVMPD now has 43 CSIs, including 7 CSI Supervisors. And LVMPD still has Resident Officers who process their own crime scenes. They are Police Officers who patrol remote areas, including Laughlin Nevada, but also process most of their own crime scenes.
By the way, civilians still have the right (and sometimes an obligation) to make citizens arrests. And, CSIs at crime scenes have an obligation to help protect the scene and the evidence. You will find that many CSAs at LVMPD have held suspects at gunpoint, until Patrol Officers arrived to arrest them. Ive had to do that a couple times myself. I was getting gas at the end of a shift and saw someone breaking into a car. Patrol didnt respond in time, and I couldnt see letting the guy leave, so I called dispatch to let them know what I was doing, then proned him out. When I I first pointed my pistol at him and gave him commands, he put his hands up and a shotgun (Mosberg 500A with pistol grip handle) fell out of his long coat. Boy was I surprised! He had just taken the shotgun from the victims vehicle. The suspects drugs also fell on the ground. Ok, I wasnt protecting a crime scene I was working. But, I couldnt just let him walk away. Someone on dayshift would be processing the vehicle for fingerprints soon, had I not stopped the suspect.
Your Readers Comment: The CSI's question witnesses and suspects. This never happens in the real world either.
Ricks Comment: Oh contraire! Youre right, CSAs at LVMPD (and Henderson PD) dont question suspects. We dont want to screw up their Miranda rights, etc., and it isnt our job (although there is a CSI at LVMPD who has MANY TIMES questioned suspects, even though he shouldnt have). However, after the Detectives are through with them (sometimes before), we often ask questions of witnesses and victims. We want to know what they saw, where persons were that they saw, what actions they witnessed, etc. I encourage my CSIs to have the Bank Clerk, 7-Eleven Clerk, etc. walk and talk them through the crime. We caution them not to touch anything, and control where they go. You cant imagine how many things the Clerks or other victims will remember and tell us, that they didnt think of when talking to the Detective. We do the same with witnesses and victims of other types of crimes; kidnap, rape, battery, domestic violence, etc.; as well. Also, the Detective would normally not take the victim on a walk through, without consulting with the lead CSI. That is mainly to keep from screwing up the crime scene.
Your Readers Comment: The CSI's order officers around, which would never happen in real life.
Ricks Comment: The rule of thumb usually is, The lead CSI or CSI Supervisor is responsible for the crime scene processing, but the lead Detective has overall responsibility for the investigation. However, we have different levels of experience both in the Detectives and CSIs, and different responsibilities and expertise. All things being equal, the two groups work as a Team, not as advocates. We all generally reserve the right to overturn anyone if someone thinks another is going to make a mistake, leave potential evidence behind, become garbage collectors for no apparent reason, etc. Also remember, there isn't always a Detective assigned (and actually at the scene) for every scene a CSI processes. In fact, that is quite often the case at LVMPD.
Your Readers Comment: The lab techs answer to the CSI's- I am not positive on this, but I think lab techs are paid more, since they are required to have degrees (and complicated ones, at that.)
This may vary widely among police departments. At LVMPD, the Forensic Lab and the CSI section are separate entities. The lab has a civilian director, the CSIs have a Police Lieutenant. The Director and Lieutenant work for a Police Captain. The CSIs have a positive working relationship with the folks in the Forensics Lab and vice versa. They are basically peers, and dont have a supervisor subordinate relationship.
Also, it might interest you to note that at the LVMPD, an Associate Degree is required for CSIs, and there is a trend to require Bachelor Degrees. As of three years ago, when I left, all but just a few of the CSIs had Bachelor Degrees, many had Masters Degrees. The Henderson Police Department currently requires Bachelor Degrees and specific certifications for all civilian Crime Scene Analysts.
Your Readers Comment: The Las Vegas police department is never involved in the cases. This would not happen in real life...they would be involved somehow. Also, in a lot of the cases, officers in general are barely involved. It seems as tho the CSI's completely take over the entire case. This is not how it happens in the real world.
Ricks Comment: The guys in uniform, Captain Brass, and others ARE the Las Vegas Police Department. Obviously, the writers have taken some liberties. This is a TV show, written to entertain, and they have to limit the number of main characters they can develop. The show does, however, a pretty good job of informing the public about the CSI profession and our capabilities.
Your Readers Comment: Some of the technology they use in various cases takes weeks to go thru and finish, yet the CSI's seem to finish everything with hours. The mere fact that they ALWAYS solve the case, sometimes by themselves (without the help of the police), and in such a short amount of time, is itself in inaccuracy. No CSI unit in the world has the record the unit on CSI does. You can't be all knowing like Grissom seems to be all the time, and you can't solve major cases in hours or a few days...cases in the real world might take decades to solve."
Ricks Comment: I dont think anyone in the show is pretending to portray a true and accurate reconstruction of any actual cases, but many of them are based on real situations. How about this factually based, with an entertaining twist, and with steps taken to protect the real victims, the innocent, and the guilty.
Your Readers Comment: UPDATE: I have done research before on the subject of CSI's - officers or civilians? and what I found before says that most of them are civilians. Lately, tho, I have finding more and more sites that say they are mainly officers. Who is right? I have no idea! I will keep looking into it. I never thought of trying to find an official site for the Las Vegas PD or Clarke County sherriffs dept to see the requirements for CSI's, but I will. Someone sent me a link to one site that deals with Vegas CSI's, and it said they need gun training, but a lot of the time they need this to safely handle guns found at crime scenes and such...so no definitive answer has been found yet. I'll keep looking.
Ricks Comments: As in my comments above, LVMPD civilian CSIs and North Las Vegas PD CSIs carry guns. It is optional for civilians at LVMPD, but most do. I only know of two who do not. At my department in Henderson, Nevada, my civilian CSIs do not (at this time).
Your Readers Comments: I would also like to point out that in the episode 'Cool Change', Catherine solved the Holly Gribbs case by getting skin samples from under her fingernails. Holly was at a crime scene. She would have been wearing latex gloves. I got this info from http://www.imdb.us.com
Ricks Comments: Not every CSI wears gloves ALL the time. It is recommended, and is a good practice. But there may be, and will be, times where the CSI is not wearing gloves. Once in a while, Ive been wearing gloves for too long and was sweating too much, so Ive twirled the powder brush a bit, without the use of gloves. I would do my best to avoid touching in the wrong areas, though. I hope. There may also be CSIs at a scene, who are not doing fingerprint processing or evidence collection, who may not have gloves on at all.
Thanks for allowing me to add these comments.
Thanks so much to Rick for these indepth comments, and sorry it took so long to post it on the correct page! :)
IN RESPONSE TO RICK'S COMMENTS, I RECEIVED THIS:
Whoever this Rick is I would just like to say your input into the show is awesome. I really learned a lot about the CSI. If they give u guys a gun why wouldn't they just simply take u through the training of a police officer. It sounds like there have been a couple of close calls between life and death. With that I think they would have made training a requirement. Just my opinion. Again awesome input.
people have debated about this since the episode Cool Change
aired. I have watched it about a hundred times. When Holly is
fighting with Jerrod Cooper(the man who shot her), it's hard to
catch but she DOES pull her glove off before scratching his face.
I thought that this should get cleared up.
One of the places the CSI writers goof fairly often is when drugs figure as a clue in a case. I'm a pharmacist, so I notice that sort of thing. I wrote a message to CBS about it, but who knows if they'll listen. A recent show was a perfect example, the one about the boxer dying in the ring. The manager slipped sufentanil into a bottle of coagulant to "sedate" the boxer. Sufentanil is a CII, injectable, and a narcotic (that means it is counted and controlled and has all kinds of laws and rules governing who can get it- morphine is also a CII). The only place it is really used is as part of general anesthesia in operating rooms. How the heck did a boxer's manager get it when I have to fill out a triplicate form and sign my name about 8 times to get it? I love the show- maybe they would hire me as a consultant. :-) Miranda
I don't mean to sound like I'm chastising anyone, but guys, it's a show. A very interesting, cool show. Of course there are going to be some mistakes and little holes. You try writing a script once a week, every week. Sorry all the writers and crew can't be geniuses and pick up on every little logical fallacy like it seems everybody else can. Name one show without mistakes... It would be no big deal if you guys were doing it for fun, but one of you guys said you would stop watching the show. I think it was you. How stupid is that. You wouldn't watch the show because of some mistakes. You guys also pointed out, like Grissom doing autopsies, or Nick arresting someone, or Warrick chasing someone down. Guys, it's TV. It would be boring if not for that. If the show was like in real life, they would be sitting in the lab all day, never seeing the outside world unless at a crime scene. The show would be over 48 hours long, because over course NO ONE solves a case in 30 minutes except Kojack. Come on people, it's like that to make the show interesting. If all the viewers saw was a bunch of technicians twiddling their thumbs or watching bacteria cultures, would you watch? And anyway, Forensic specialist DO sit in on autopsies if not do a few themselves. Maybe if you payed attention to the show instead of being obsessed in finding its faults, you would know that Grissom started off as a medical examiner, the youngest in history. (According to the show) So people, just enjoy the show and stop waste your time looking for every little mistake. (unless it's for fun, like a personal competition )
An avid CSI/Forensic Science fan
[To the] Producer(s) of CSI: I have been a fan of CSI since it began last year; largely due to its (apparent) scientific accuracy. The subject episode has shaken my faith in that accuracy. While you evidently have a good technical advisor in the forensics arena, you should have enlisted help in physics or engineering for that one.
The most glaring errors:
1) Velocity, terminal or otherwise, is measured in unit of distance per unit of time (e.g. MPH), not time-squared. Distance/time-squared is acceleration, not velocity. For $50 or less, any junior-year engineering student could have calculated the "terminal velocity" (more accurately: impact velocity) and gotten the units right.
2) Reversed polarization of the drill would cause the motor to run backwards, but would not harm the operator. The hot lead must be connected to the drill housing, with which he is in contact, to hurt him.
3) The nail in the boot was inserted in the arch where it would not have contacted the floor. The point of the nail could not have contacted the wearer's flesh or he would have removed the nail.
4) Although admittedly outside my area, I find it incredible that blood could become a good enough conductor of electricity to prevent burn marks at interface contacts. Switches connected by copper wires develop burn marks.
What bothers me most is the question: if the producers are that careless with the science that I know about, how accurate are they with the science (forensics) that I don't know about? Can their stories be trusted? A few more episodes like that one and CSI will lose this fan and, I suspect, many more.
ALSO IN THIS EPISODE
1) I noticed how Nick said that the rubber tires in a car keep you safe if your car is struck by lightning. This is not true at all. The only thing that keeps you safe is the fact that lightning takes the shortest path, which is straight around the car's outer frame. That's why, if you're in this situation, experts say to keep your hands on your lap. Lightning travels huge distances thru the air, rubber tires are no match, and it goes right thru them. As long as you have no direct contact with the outer metal frame, you should be safe. This only goes for hardtop vehicles tho. Soft tops (convertibles) offer no protection whatsoever. I had many people notice this inaccuarcy as well.
2) In addition to the inaccuracies you mentioned on your site, the episode mentions an "angora blanket" which is described as coming from goats. The writer must have been thinking of the chamois, a goat-like creature for which several natural and artificial fibres have been named. I am a long-time rabbit owner, and can attest that angora comes from the angora rabbit, which sheds its fur twice a year as it changes between summer and winter coats. The fur can be harvested with a brush, and the process is not harmful to the animal (they seem to find it soothing).
NOTE: I received this e mail from someone. Who is right? I have no idea! I'm just posting it all! :)
Hi Josh, Just wanted to pass on that there ARE Angora goats--not just rabbits. The clothing made from these goats is also called angora. Just wanted to point that out. -----------------------------------
BTW (by the way), I calculated the
velocities for the worker's fall. A twelve-story fall is roughly
120 feet in modern construction, or about 36.6 meters. From this
height, ignoring the negligible influence of air resistance at
low velocities, the fall would have taken just over 2.7 seconds.
The impact velocity would be almost 26.8 meters/second (just
under 60 MPH). Terminal velocity for a human body is at least 53
meters/second at low altitudes, depending on body angle and limb
position. So he hit at just over half of
terminal velocity, which is still sufficient to cause death. To reach terminal velocity of 53 m/s requires a fall of at least 5.4
seconds, during which time the body would fall 143 meters, or 470 feet (about 47 stories).
EPISODE: "Fahrenheit 932"
I'm an accident reconstruction engineer and fire investigator, (degreed in
electrical engineering) with 20 years experience in forensics. I watched the
CSI show on an arson case and was appalled at the logical leaps and just
plain lousy treatment of fire investigative techniques. I wrote an article
the show for my company's website:
It seems like the writers looked up some buzz words in the field and tried to connive a plot around them. It didn't work.
EPISODE: "Slaves of Las Vegas"
Well, like Overload, I think this episode annoyed a lot of people. Honestly, I think it was by far the worst episode thus far. BORING! Some of the funniest things that were totally wrong in this episode:
if you have anything to add, e mail me at JBoze3131@hotmail.com
EPISODE: "And Then There Were None"
VARIOUS INACCURACIES IN ALL EPISODES
I get e mails every now and then from people who want to clarify certain points or to shed some light on some subjects that deal with the inaccuracies. The following are some of these e mails:
E MAIL # 1, concerning:
CSI's being civilians or officers and other points.
I was reading your inaccuracies page on the CSI show. I am a crime scene technician in south Florida with 3 1/2 years experience. I agree with a great deal of the inaccuracies of the show, but I guess Hollywood is allowed a little bit of exaggeration. If people really knew what csi's really did on a daily basis they would change the channel!! What I can vouch for is the way things are done here in Florida. CSI's can carry weapons such as ASPs, mace and even firearms if the department they are working for permits it with obvious training. CSI's can be sworn officers our non-sworn personnel. In south Florida the sheriff's departments crime scene unit are normally officers where local municipalities such as the one I work for employ non-sworn civilians. Another thing is depending on the scene that is being processed by the technician an officer does not necessarily have to be on the scene. Obviously, all death scenes or scenes that require the detective bureau have a sworn officer or detective on scene. I noticed the entry on shaving victim's bodies. I have attended several autopsies at the local Medical Examiner's office and they do shave the hair if they feel certain evidence (i.e. gun shot wounds, bite marks) can be better viewed with the hairs removal. I do agree on the fact that in real life we don't have the magical fingerprint that appears out of thin air and solves the case. Some cases do remain unsolved despite exhaustive effort. I simply take the show in stride and enjoy the fact that the field of forensics has been given it's day in the spot light. We are an underappreciated, over worked group of people that look forward to nothing else than putting the right person behind bars and giving victims peace. There is a saying I live by "We speak for those who can no longer make their voices heard." I think that says it all. If you want any other information on the topic of crime scene investigations please feel free to email me. I hope this helped.
E MAIL # 2, concerning:
Like Bruce Emerick, I was VERY put off by the sloppy research done for "Overload"
The scene ALSO pointed out that the Ground Fault Interruptor protection circuit was disabled by cutting the Grounding pin on the cord.
This WOULD NOT have disabled it; GFI's work by tripping if the current in one Power lead (Hot) is different than in the other (Neutral). The Ground lead is ONLY used at the GFI location for testing (when you push the test button). Cutting the Ground pin to the tool would have ABSOLUTELY no effect.
Also in reference to the nail in the boot;
IF it were a point of contact there WOULD be a contact burn because of the very small area of contact... no matter whether or not the blood carried the deadly current.
Finally, If the tool were 220 volts, a tight contact would be deadly. But if it were a 110 volt tool... then the power would not be counted on to kill. 110 volts is rarely fatal under the circumstances in the scene, the main effect would be for the person shocked to be knocked back, releasing the tool.
sent in by: firstname.lastname@example.org - Thanks a lot!
E MAIL # 3, concerning:
EPISODE: "Strip Strangler " (Gil's migraine in this epispode)
Love the site, and especially like the "inaccuracies" page as I was wondering how many liberties they were taking with the techno-stuff. I know less than nothing about most (okay, ALL) things scientific and so must trust that the show's writers have some vague idea of what they're doing. I also trust the viewers to point out when the writers drop the ball, but honestly never thought I'd have an opportunity to point out an inaccuracy--or what I feel was a huge glitch. Hope it doesn't matter that this has absolutely NOTHING to do with any of the forensics in the episode...
The scene I've got a problem with comes after Gil gets booted for trying to do his job rather than kowtowing to his "superiors": he retreats to his townhouse, cranks up the CD player, pops down some sort of pill with a swig of nice cold water from the fridge, tries unsuccessfully to go over some files and finally crashes on the couch. Enter Catherine, who startles Our Hero into rapidly sitting up from his comfy position. She looks at the pill bottle and says, "Migraine?" Gil confirms her diagnosis and the rest of the scene plays out...
As someone who has weathered numerous migraines I found several problems with this scene. Migraine symptoms can vary from one person to the next but often include nausea, vomiting, visual distortion, extreme sensitivity to sound and/or light, "navigational" difficulty (hard to maneuver with a very small man with a very large hammer trying to pound his way out of one's skull...) Now, I'm willing to grant Gil the ability to drive home since my own experience has been that I have a few minor "warning symptoms" about 20 minutes before the migraine hits with full force, so I'm figuring the headache is building while he's heading back to the Bat Cave (or is that the Bug Cave...?) but some of the other stuff just didn't ring true. Speaking from my own experience the very LAST thing I would do would be to boost the volume of any music playing--indeed, the cd player/radio/television would be the first thing I'd crawl to and shut off. Next on my "don't EVER do during migraine" list is the drinking of anything other than tepid water or warm tea, since ice-cold water slamming into an already-churning gut is pretty much THE best way to guarantee a turn at driving the porcelain bus. His inability to concentrate on the files and sprawling on the couch were fairly accurate (the arm over the eyes was dead-on), but if Catherine had startled ME into a sitting position that abruptly I'd have almost immediately keeled over onto the floor and puked on her shoes whilst clutching the top of my head to keep it from falling off.
Thanks for the opportunity to grouse about this...
E MAIL # 4, concerning:
EPISODE: "Pilot" and "Cool Change"
Hey Josh, I just wanted to point out, someone wrote a letter about coroners never shaving the dead person's head. I am not an expert, but on many forensic shows I have watched, they DO shave their heads, but only if the cause of death had to do something with the head (ex. blunt force trauma to the head, bullet to the head, etc.) I would also like to point out that in the episode 'Cool Change', Catherine solved the Holly Gribbs case by getting skin sampls from under her fingernails. Holly was at a crime scene. She would have been wearing latex gloves. I got this info from http://www.imdb.us.com Annie
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Webpage created on: October 16, 2001
Webpage last updated on: April 8, 2004 @ 9:40 P.M. CT.
Comments? Questions? Send E- Mail to the webmaster (Joshua Bozeman) at JBoze3131@hotmail.com