By Cameron Knauerhaze
Other than a few bumbling crooks that manage to botch a crime so bad a 3rd grader can solve it, a crime is usually not solved in 30 minutes. I mention the 30-minute window because it seems lately that the public demands law enforcement and the courts to make an arrest, investigate crimes, and try cases just like it is done on TV—in one episode.
In reality, DNA takes weeks, autopsy results can take months, and nowadays the cops need a warrant for everything. Compounding the problem is the now and ever-present budget cutting going on throughout the state that is hitting government agencies hard. Lack of resources means doing business a little different, or not doing business at all. For instance, most crime labs have strict rules regarding what they will even test for DNA. Homicides and sex crimes, very few restrictions apply. If you have you car broken into and it amounts to a misdemeanor—no DNA processing for you. Misdemeanor property crimes do not make the cut. What about the gas pump where the killer used the victim’s credit card—uh, no, too many donors. The lab generally likes to see a surface touched by less than 5 people before they work the sample.
My point in all this is to bring things into perspective, not take the wind out of the sails of justice. Afterall, most police agencies do well with what they have. However, Hollywood, the media and those cheesy crime novels are meant to stimulate your senses and entertain you. In reality, you carry just as much responsibility as our law enforcers when it comes to protecting yourself, your family, and your property.
About the Author- Cameron Knauerhaze is the former CSI Board President and current member of the CSI Council. He is a Orange County, CA Police Sergeant with 16 years experience in patrol, investigations, community policing, and media relations.