Forensic scientists from around the world are gathering in Seattle this week to talk about subjects like “Death in confined space” and “Nail or bullet?” The Seattle Times reports that the American Academy of Forensic Scientists sounds glamorous, thanks to the popular “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation” TV franchise and other crime dramas. Yet, “There’s a huge difference between reality and what you see on television,” said Dr. John Howard, Pierce County medical examiner. Among 4,000 people at the meeting are writers and technical advisers for “CSI” and other shows, trolling for story lines.
The proliferation of television shows has spurred unprecedented interest in crime-related careers. “It’s great for us, because we get a large pool of people to choose from, including some very, very highly qualified people,” said one lab director. Unlike television dramas, real-life forensic investigations can take a long time. Dr. Barry A. J. Fisher, crime-lab director for the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and past president of the American Academy of Forensic Scientists is still waiting for the so-called “CSI effect” to translate into bigger budgets for the manpower and equipment vital to crime-scene investigations. Many in the public are becoming more savvy about technology and science from watching the shows – but some are also developing unrealistic expectations, Dr. Howard said.