CSI Lab and the Real “CSI” Crime Lab in Quantico, Virginia
FBI gives glimpse inside real ‘CSI’
By Carol Cratty and Kelli Arena
QUANTICO, Virginia (CNN) — Behind closed doors, the scientists and agents of the FBI scrutinize fibers, poisons, explosives, DNA and just about any other shred of evidence that might help solve crimes.
They can’t talk about specific cases they’re working. Yet the work they’re doing can put people behind bars or lead to major advances in crime-solving techniques.
As the FBI hits the 100-year-mark and continues to evolve to meet the demands of the world, CNN visited the state-of-the-art crime lab in Quantico, Virginia. It’s the same lab that inspired the hit television series “CSI.”
Dozens of experts from an array of fields work under one roof.
“I think that’s what really made a name for the FBI lab,” said Robert Fram, chief of the FBI’s scientific analysis section. “We were able to get involved in a lot of very high-profile cases and get it done completely.” Get a behind-the-scenes look at the lab »
The lab has played roles in everyday cases as well as some of the most significant crime investigations in the nation’s history, from the assassination of President Kennedy to the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, in 1988 to the September 11 terrorist attacks.
The lab now employs 500 agents, scientists and other personnel, far from its origins in 1932. Back then, there was only one agent working in a single room in Washington. His name was Charles Appel, a handwriting analysis expert.
Appel’s background allowed the lab to play an important role in one of its first big cases: the kidnapping and killing of the toddler son of aviator Charles Lindbergh. Appel linked the handwriting from ransom notes to a suspect, Bruno Richard Hauptmann, who was convicted.
Since then, the lab has been on the cutting edge of crime-solving techniques. The advent of DNA analysis was a revolution in forensic science, and it’s a key part of what the FBI lab does. See photos of the FBI as it turns 100 »
Richard Guerrieri is a chief DNA analyst at Quantico.
Editor’s note: This story is the second of a three-part series focusing on the FBI as the agency hits the 100-year mark.
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‘CSI’ Crime Lab Differs From the Real Thing
Aside from the actors, mysterious twists, and provocative storylines, the crime lab is also one of the central elements of the award-winning series CSI: Crime Scene Investigation. Throughout the show, the CSI team is able to trail investigations through means of forensic evidence most often realized in the walls of the scientific lab. With the use of unusual camera angles, hi-tech equipment, graphic portrayal and technical methods of evidence recovery, the procedural drama has become a favorable comparison close to reality, at least for most of its fans.
But for Bob Pino, a former Massachusetts State Police Crime Lab administrator, real-life crime scene investigations differ from those that are portrayed on television.
“With CSI on television, everything has to be done within that one hour time frame, but in real case work, there’s also the actual taking in of evidence, the chain of custody matters that have to be done, then the actual evidence has to be examined by separate examiners,” Pino told The Boston Channel. “The stains have to be identified and once they’re identified they have to be typed up, and each one of these processes can take either days or weeks, depending on which type of testing you’re doing.”
In line with this, he also explains that what people see on television is not an accurate reflection of how an actual crime lab works.
“Everything goes into different compartments, different laboratories do different types of the examination. So you’d have one part that does finger prints, one part that does any kind of trace identification, one that does the state identification, and then there’d be DNA done afterwards,” Pino added.
While CSI consists of a comprehensive workforce that includes a forensic entomologist, a blood spatter analyst, and an audio-video analyst to name a few, real crime labs are often understaffed and overworked.
-Kris, BuddyTV Staff Columnist
Source: The Boston Channel
(Image courtesy of CBS)
found in http://www.buddytv.com
Crime Scene Investigation and Forensic Anthropology
Professors Marilyn London and Tom Mauriello join Andrew Wolvin, Ph.D., to discuss how scientists assist in criminal investigations. They take a look at the lives, research, and education of criminal investigators and forensic anthropoligists to show how science is being used to solve crimes.
YouTube video uploaded by user ResearchChannel
CSI Miami Horatio Caine lab scenes
YouTube video uploaded by user Campissin
CSI New York Crime Lab stage
YouTube video uploaded by user CameronGreene1
Posted to History Channel site
FBI’s Crime Lab
On April 25, 2003, The Federal Bureau of Investigation officially opened it’s new Laboratory Division Facility. This state-of-the-art facility is the most sophisticated forensic laboratory in the world. It is where the art and science of criminology join forces to solve some of the nation’s most perplexing crimes, from local homicides to terrorist attacks such as those which occurred on September 11, 2001. This edition of Modern Marvels takes you inside these new facilities to demonstrate some of the advanced technologies and techniques scientists, criminologists and agents perform here. It provides insight to the history of the Bureau’s forensic activities as well as a fascinating look at modern forensics. FBI’s Crime Lab would be useful for classes on American History, Criminal Justice, Law and Justice and Science. It is appropriate for middle school and high school.
Students will explore the FBI’s forensic facilities to understand the role of science and technology in criminal investigations as well as criminology. They will learn about the Bureau’s history of forensics as well as its modern application in a post 9/11 nation.
NATIONAL HISTORY STANDARDS
FBI’s Crime Lab fulfills the following National Standards for History for grades 5-12: chronological thinking and historical comprehension for United States History eras 8, 9 and 10.
- At the FBI’s Crime Lab, forensic scientists help the Bureau to solve crimes. What is a forensic scientist? Are there different types? What do they do?
- Workers at the Crime Lab refer to it as “Battle Star Gallactica.” Why?
- The Crime Lab building is designed to preserve the “integrity of evidence.” What does this mean? How does the design of the building accomplish this?
- Forensic science is more than a science and more than art. Discuss how it is both an art and a science.
- What are some of the types or forms of analysis performed at the Crime Lab?
- What makes this lab unique?
- The Crime Lab is the most sophisticated crime laboratory in the world. What are the origins of this lab?
- Discuss the role of Agent Charles Appel in developing FBI forensic science.
- The FBI Crime Lab uses serology to solve some crime cases. What is serology? How is it used to solve crimes?
- How do scientists of the firearms unit determine if a bullet came from a particular firearm?
- Agents consider homemade bombs especially dangerous. Why?
- What are latent fingerprints?
- Discuss how DNA is the fingerprint of the 21st century.
- There are two different types of DNA, nuclear and mitochondrial. What is the difference between these two types?
- How did the events of September 11, 2001 change the mission and methods of the FBI?
- Design your own crime lab. Research forensics on the Internet and use your information to design your own lab.
- Create a poster illustrating the different methods forensic scientists use.
- The famous Sacco and Venzetti case of the 1920s was the first case where prosecutors used forensic evidence. Follow this link:http://www.courttv.com/archive/greatesttrials/sacco.vanzetti/vanzetti_letter.html#lastletter for the letter these men wrote on the eve of their execution.
FBI’s Crime Laboratory
photo and text by BLOCKBUSTER Online
Few research laboratories in the United States play as crucial role in the investigation of terrorism and apprehension of serious offenders as the FBI Crime Laboratory in Quantico, Virginia, and in this release curious Americans can finally find out just how their tax dollars are put to work in the War on Terror. A $150 million plus building that was originally constructed in 1932 and later updated to utilize the most advanced technology available, the FBI Laboratory employs nearly 700 specially-trained scientists who work around the clock to crack only the toughest cases. In addition to offering a brief overview of the over one-million investigations that are annually carried out at the remarkable lab, a look at how the events of September 11, 2001 forever changed the focus of the investigations carried out there offers compelling evidence as to the many advances in modern forensic investigation. ~ Jason Buchanan, All Movie Guide
TV cop shows like CSI help real criminals: Aussie expert
December 07, 2008 12:00am
AUSTRALIA’s top forensic investigator believes criminals are watching CSI-style television shows to learn how to outsmart detectives.
Dr James Robertson, head of Forensic and Technical Services with the Australian Federal Police, said the programs were helping criminals become more “forensically aware” of crime and better informed about covering their tracks.
He made the concession last week as he prepared to give a keynote address on DNA testing in homicide investigations.
Dr Robertson also said DNA analysts around the country “need to do their job better” and avoid collecting DNA samples in an “unintelligent” way.
The emergence of popular crime dramas, like CSI: Miami and City Homicide, which feature the latest techniques and analysis, have “let the rabbit out of the hat” for criminals, he said, giving savvier crooks a tactical advantage over police investigators.
“There are people out there who try to understand what forensic science is capable of and they may be slightly better informed if they watch those shows. “You couldn’t shut the programs down, even if you wanted to.”
Seasoned criminals were the most likely to benefit from the shows but, even with the knowledge now freely available, Dr Robertson said it was still very difficult for the average offender to flee a crime scene without leaving behind an incriminating DNA trail.
“The truth is, fingerprint analysis has been around for 100 years and people still leave their fingerprints.”
Ahead of his speech at the international conference on homicide in Queensland, Dr Robertson also delivered a blunt assessment on the state of Australia’s DNA-gathering procedures, saying major reforms were needed.
Technological advances were required to speed up the DNA analysis so huge backlogs could be avoided. “We’ve got to become more intelligent about how we assess cases and manage them,” he said.
Earlier this year the NSW Police Force began outsourcing its DNA analysis of less-serious crimes, such as armed robberies and malicious damage, to the Victorian-based company, Genetic Technologies Corporation.
Dr Robertson said projects which could revolutionise crime-scene DNA analysis were under way with promising innovations in stages of development.
“The Holy Grail is that we might be able to move analytical objects into the field.
“If you could identify a key blood stain you could give an answer back to the investigator in hours instead of that item going back to the lab and sitting there for weeks and months.”
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