UCO offers students real life CSI

Monday, April 28th 2008, 4:42 pm
By: News 9

Stacey Cameron, NEWS 9

On screen, "CSI Miami" is full of skin-baring stars and South Beach, but behind the scenes, actors like Emily Proctor and Adam Rodriquez said high-tech forensic science is the real star of the show.

"That in and of itself is interesting to me, but it's been fascinating," actress Emily Proctor said.

Adam Rodriquez, who plays Detective Erik Delko, said it's a double-edge sword because the actors know how meticulous the work is and they know how easily the show glamorizes the science.

Although the Crime Scene Investigation detectives always get their suspect within the hour, that timeline is not necessarily realistic. The show's use of fingerprints and DNA, however, is used regularly in the real crime world.

Dr. Dwight Adams, the director of the University of Central Oklahoma Criminal Science Institute, served as head of the FBI Crime Lab in Quantico, Va. for 22 years.

Now, Adams is teaching the next generation of CSI detectives in Oklahoma.

"'CSI is one of my favorite shows that I really don't watch," Adams said. "It's my favorite show, because of the interest it's created in students."

For Adams and his students, science is the key word. The students must be highly trained in the chemistry, math and physics necessary to crime solving.

"We have an excellent program here at UCO, training students in reality of forensic science," Adams said.

Although "CSI Miami" is scripted science, that doesn't mean the show isn't based in reality.

"Many of the things you see on 'CSI' are similar to the things we have in real crime laboratories, the real difference is time," Adams said.

While the detectives of "CSI Miami" might get DNA results back and catch a killer in an hour, the students don't worry about that time crunch.

"In the real crime world, it may take hours, weeks or months," Adams said.

While shows like "CSI Miami" make DNA look like a key piece of forensic evidence at every crime scene, Adams still teaches students that fingerprints are one the best pieces of evidence a killer will ever leave behind.

"Fingerprints have been around for over 100 years, and they're going to continue to be around for the next 100 years," Adams said.

Considering the hands-on forensic training Adams' students receive, when it comes to murder the actors of "CSI Miami" agree the CSI from UCO are becoming some of the best cops on the crime scene.

In addition to offering a Bachelor's and Master's Degrees in Forensic Science, UCO also teaches CSI to real life police officers. Programs include Oklahoma City Police, Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation and Oklahoma State Troopers.