Thursday, April 25 2013, 05:53 PM CDT
Blurring the lines of reality
By Caitlin Conrad/KTVL.com
MEDFORD, Ore -- Police and prosecutors go to a lot of work to bring the perpetrators of crimes to justice but popular television shows can make their jobs even harder.
Right now T.V.'s number one hit show is NCIS and it's not the first time a Crime scene drama has taken the number one spot. Law enforcement officers call it the CSI effect. They say all the viewership takes a toll on the work they do hitting hardest is in the court room.
Tony Young has worked as a detective for eight years putting in 20 total years as an officer with Medford Police. He says a juror's expectation from a case is higher than it used to be.
"I think we have raised the bar in the jury's mind, " Young said. He says thanks to shows like CSI people want to see every possible test done in every single case but realistically that doesn't make sense.
Lee Ayers is a professor at Southern Oregon University where she teaches Criminology and she says the CSI effect is real.
"Reality to me is what's really getting blurred with in the CSI effect," Ayers said, explaining that the best way to eliminate it is to educate the jury.
Ayers says the truth sticks best in the jury's mind when you talk about cost. She says when your dealing with minor cases like theft or burglaries, testing for things like DNA is not only an inefficient use of time it costs tax payers a lot of money.
"I think it's important for people to understand if you only need a gallon of paint to paint a room are you going to go out and buy six and use all six of those before you decide which color," she asks. The answer is probably not, especially if you're doing it on the tax payers' dime.
Detectives say even for the big trials, where they go all out on testing, a majority of the time cases are solved by statements not DNA.
"Most of the time it's good old fashioned investigation, talking to people," Young said.
For Young his big career case was the Luis Salas Juarez trial and then re-trial. A massive, multi-person, bar brawl turned into a fatal stabbing.
He says the murder case was made completely off what people said, not the physical evidence.
"That case was largely made on witness identification of the suspect in the case," Young said. Statements which made the detective positive he had the guy.
Young sat side-by-side with the prosecution team through out the two trials listening to them explain why in some cases there just isn't DNA or fingerprints to prove what happened. Evidence which now days almost all juries expect to hear before they turn in a guilty verdict.