Is the FDL MEO anything like the shows on television (CSI, Crossing Jordan, etc.)?
While television shows about forensic investigation and Medical Examiners are often entertaining, they fall far short of reality. Medical Examiners are often portrayed as one-person, crime-solving units, with unlimited time to spend on a single case, and equipment that is not only ultra-state-of–the-art, but also contrary to the realities of science.
In reality, forensic investigation is a professional collaboration of intelligent, well-trained, hard-working and dedicated people, including law enforcement detectives, crime scene technicians, death investigators, forensic pathologists, and, sometimes, numerous experts from the state crime laboratory (DNA technicians, trace evidence technicians, firearms experts, etc.).
In reality, the MEO is involved in the active investigations of many cases at once, while accepting and beginning new case investigations each day. In reality, toxicology testing and DNA analysis takes weeks and months, not minutes and hours.
In reality, the FDL MEO is not issued "Hummers" to drive.
Television also paints a troublesome picture of the Medical Examiner’s objectivity, with MEs engaged in trying to help prove someone’s guilt. The FDL MEO is an independent County agency with no political or budgetary ties to any police agency or to the District Attorney’s Office. It operates as an unbiased investigative unit, which represents the final voice of the deceased and renders only objective opinions about the cause and manner of death.
In defense of Hollywood, it MUST be difficult to squeeze a forensic investigation, which would in reality take weeks or months to complete, into one hour, minus commercials. In addition, the interest these shows have generated in the field of forensic investigation has certainly brought new minds into the forensic work force and has served to de-mystify the activities of the Medical Examiner’s Office. Once viewed in a negative and macabre light, the Medical Examiner’s Office is now perceived for what it truly is: a team of trained professionals, armed with scientific knowledge, observational skills and experience in investigating one of the most complex events known to man.