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TV Shows Add to Popularity of Forensic Science Classes

TV Shows Add to Popularity of Forensic Science Classes



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Paul Nelson, KSL NewsradioAs classes get underway in Utah's colleges, some education analysts say classes in forensic science are getting more popular, partly because of TV programs like CSI and Law & Order, but some people say those shows also could be the reason some students drop out.

There are plenty of crime shows out there, and they make forensic science look cool. Salt Lake Community College forensic science students Coeur D'Alene Jones and Nicole Hill say they can tell the real world from fiction.

"They kind of make it look better than it actually is," Coeur D'Alene said.

Nicole added, "TV is TV. You've got to do what you've got to do."

Their teacher, professor Christie Scribner, however, says she has seen students become let down that the reality of criminal forensic science doesn't match what they've imagined.

"It's just a little more tedious than the TV show. It takes 100 times longer than it does on the TV show," she said.

Professor Scribner says some of those students leave. She's a rare type of CSI investigator, who is actually a cop who works for CSI Sandy. However, she says she doesn't break down doors or interrogate suspects or anything like that.

"Everything's done and somebody calls us in after all the action is all over," she said.

Still, she says she likes CSI. She doesn't watch CSI: Miami because she doesn't like the redheaded character.

"Do you ever put on your sunglasses, say a quick one-liner and leave the crime scene like David Caruso?" we asked her.

"Totally," she replied.

This disillusionment doesn't just happen for students at Salt Lake Community College. Officials at Weber State say they, too, have noticed some students get disappointed.

Weber State University Forensic Science Adjunct Professor James Gaskill said, "When we explained to them the requirements, not all of them decided to follow through."

Gaskill says he thinks students are starting to get a more realistic view of what forensic science is before they apply for classes.

"They don't solve a crime in 30 minutes," he said.

Gaskill says one of his biggest pet peeves with the show CSI is investigators seem to have forgotten light switches have been invented, and possibly turning on the lights may help them see better.

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