Not really. It was more a class about bringing people back into the real world about the TRUE super powers of forensic science.
Our teacher, Mrs. Kathryn Dozier from the Forensic Science Unit (FSU), had at least me on the edge of my seat during her explanation of all the truly gross parts of her job. Poor thing probably thinks I followed her home after class in her big Forensics van. (I waved to her at a red light close to the 1st precinct which is across town from our class! LOL)
In case you did not already know, approximately 90% of what you see on shows like CSI is fake. Shows like this have confused the public so much so that Kathryn must explain this fact on the witness stand before giving testimony in court.
Other than the fact that they don’t drive Hummers, one of the biggest misconceptions about forensics is how fast DNA results come in. There is only 1 DFS facility in Richmond to process DNA requests for the state and getting results back in 6 weeks is considered great!
FCU techs also do not stand around crime scenes slowly removing their sunglasses to say something profound – nor do they interview suspects. What is true? They DO get into some nasty stuff.
While they don’t bring actual human bodies back to their lab, any affiliated evidence is brought in for processing. For instance, if a body is wrapped in sheets and blankets and left for weeks somewhere, THOSE items are brought in complete with any piece of nature that has attached itself. Think maggots and decomposing flesh.
I asked Kathryn if the stuff they put under their nose (Vicks) works against the smells and the answer was no. Just like Kay Scarpetta in the Patricia Cornwell crime novels, Kathryn often has to remove her work clothes in the garage. She told us that she calls her husband on her way home to clean out the washing machine so she can immediately wash her work clothes in hot water instead of bringing them in the house.
She further informed us that when washing her face, she has to wash out her nose – even then the smell of death can stay up to 3 days. Can you imagine? I should of asked how much money she is paid for this. How much is enough?
Since I’ve been known to take a few photos in my time and I have a crime fighting background, I asked if there was any way to work in her department and not go near death. Um, nope. I don’t mind seeing gore but smelling it – hell no. Kathryn has never actually lost it at a crime scene but has witnessed many officers who have. Since she is a mere 25 yrs old and therefore has probably never even heard of Quincy! I loved that show!
Kathryn, you will LOVE THIS!
Forensics techs deal with much more than human remains. In fact, their primary day to day tasks involve collecting evidence at property crime scenes. Last year, VA Beach had 18 homicides – all but one has been solved and the last one is a matter of tracking down the location of the perp. In addition, they report to various other crimes scenes like those involving animal and/or child abuse and neglect, fire and arson, narcotics, firearms and motor vehicle accidents.
Processing any crime scene involves photographs of every single piece of evidence and lots of black powder. How about those fingerprints? Well, even a dumb crook knows to avoid leaving fingerprints behind so some actually remove their socks to use as gloves. They leave footprints at the scene instead. I kid you not. A good footprint can and will be used against you!
Also, those gloves used by your dentist? You can actually leave fingerprints behind wearing those so double up Ricky Redneck or bring an extra pair of socks!
Can someone please call me if there is an opening in forensics that doesn’t involve smells?