You've probably seen an episode of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation. It's one of the most watched shows on television. And because
But what happens when you take Hollywood out of the mix? Health magazine interviewed Patricia McFeeley, a medical examiner for the state of New Mexico. And she offers these insights on what it's like to be a real member of a CSI team.
First, on TV, they work on 1 or maybe 2 cases and go full-force until a crime is solved. But in reality, investigators can get several homicide cases a day - and it usually takes weeks, months or LONGER to come up with answers. On TV, the DNA results come back in an hour. But it actually takes about 2 weeks to get them, which McFeeley says is frustrating for families. Also on TV, they often go back to the body weeks later to gather more evidence. But that usually needs to be done right away, because the body won't always be around if you need to examine it later.
McFeeley also says that narrowing the time of death down to a tiny window isn't realistic.
At best, it'll be within a couple of hours. But the longer it takes to recover a body after death, the less likely they are to even pinpoint the DAY the person died.
And one final bit of intelligence on life as a crime scene investigator: The white lab coats and masks they wear on TV aren't quite on the mark. McFeeley says she's usually covered from head to toe: A gown, a head cover with built-in goggles, special masks, long protective sleeves and Kevlar gloves to protect against accidental cuts.
So if you're thinking about a job as a CSI team member, just remember that it's not as glamorous as Hollywood makes it out to be.