What Cop Shows Get Wrong

CSI, NCIS, Criminal Minds, Bones, Law and Order—crime dramas and cop shows are cropping up all over TV these days, and many people enjoy the thrill of watching investigators navigate a mysterious crime and ultimately catch the culprit. One question that people often ask when watching these shows, however, is, “How accurately does this show mirror real life?” It’s natural, of course, that cop shows eliminate several aspects of reality simply for the sake of good storytelling; but here is an interesting look at some of the key things that cop shows get wrong.

Police siren

Lab results take weeks (or months) to get, not hours.

One common occurrence in crime drama involves a medical examiner rattling off the results of a toxicology report to their supervisor, hours after the request is made, and long before a full autopsy is completed. In the world of forensics, however, a toxicology test involves taking samples from blood, urine, and various body tissues, testing them for drugs and other substances, and passing the samples between many different people. Ultimately, getting lab results could take anywhere from four to six weeks—or even longer. Read More