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Crime Shows: Debunked | Emily Gao

Crime Shows: Debunked

by: Emily Gao

Criminal Minds, Law & Order: SVU, NCIS, Hawaii Five O. Just a few of the crime shows that populate people’s TV screens each night. Each of these shows consist of episode after episode, season after season of “catching the bad guys” and “serving justice”. You are lying to yourself if you say that you haven’t felt the slightest urge to quit everything and become a criminal investigator after watching a couple episodes of these shows. It is no doubt that these shows glorify being a criminal investigator, whether it is the F.B.I, C.S.I, or a local police task force. After all, the main characters of these shows always somehow prevail over the criminals in every episode and seem to have an unlimited supply of high intensity cases to investigate. These characters always seem to persist, solving crime after crime, with seemingly no emotional trauma as a result of the heavy weight of their job.

Now I’m not trying to crush your dreams. But, I think we all need to know: are these crime shows realistic at all? Here are some myths debunked…

Computers Are Not That Powerful:

A consistent scene among almost all FBI shows seems to be the process of a FBI analyst receiving a single thumbprint or a single strand of hair and then being able to pull up an entire profile of a suspect within the matter of minutes. Veronica Maxwell, who has worked for the bureau for 27 years, indicates that when working with databases, “you have to go to a lot of different sources to pull together what you need and then synthesize it”. In other words, no, the FBI can not pull up a profile of someone in the matter of seconds: it takes time. Also, the magical “enhance“ filter that seems to always be used to turn a pixelated blurry image into a high quality one when agents analyze security footage? Completely fiction. You simply can not apply a filter to make a low quality video or photo turn into HD quality.

It’s Not Really That Secretive:

It seems to be a preconceived notion that FBI agents’ jobs are top secret one hundred percent of the time. That talking about their cases to others is completely off limits. However, one cases have been adjudicated (been through court), FBI agents can talk about them all they want.

FBI Agents are not Emotionless:

A critical component of an agent’s job is being able to get witnesses to relax and help the case, get criminals to confess, and garner the trust of those involved with the case. Gary Noesner, now retired, was the chief of the FBI’s Crisis Negotiation Unit.  He indicated that the most effective agents are “personable, outgoing, and have a good sense of humor”.

It’s Not As Dangerous As It Seems:

Throughout Gary Noesner’s career, he dealt with numerous kidnappings, hostage situations, and armed robberies. In an interview with Business Insider, he stated that despite the variety of crimes he dealt with, he was “in few dangerous situations throughout his career”, but the oh so popular scene of a “negotiator holding his hands up and walks up to the person holding a gun” is pretty much fiction.

Thinking back on it, this is kind of reassuring. It’s good to know that FBI agents are normal humans like us and aren’t always one wrong move away from being shot when they are on the job.

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