Friday, December 27, 2013

Solving Crime Behind the Scenes

Between NCIS and its spin-off NCIS: Los Angeles, about 39 million people tune in each week to watch special agents solves crimes committed by or against members of the US Navy. Indeed, Americans enjoys their crime procedurals, with no less than seven joining the top 25 most-watched programs of the 2012-2013 TV season. Invariably, it’s the astute detective or the incisive agent that gets top billing in these programs, but a huge part of crime solving actually occurs behind the scenes in medical laboratories.

Indeed, forensics allows law enforcement agencies to crack even the most complicated crimes thanks to meticulous scientific tests. One of the most prominent forensic specialists are forensic toxicologists, experts who examine body fluids and tissue for traces of chemicals that might have contributed to a victim’s untimely demise.

If a defendant is appealing his drunk driving charge, a forensic toxicologist will examine field sobriety results as well as blood alcohol level tests to determine the driver’s culpability. They also help in cases where a victim is suspected to have been poisoned by checking the deceased’s blood and other body fluids for poisonous drugs, chemicals, or metals. Once they finish the investigation, forensic toxicologists can be asked to appear in court as expert witnesses who will explain their findings in layman’s terms to the judge and the jury.

While crime dramas make for engaging television shows, don’t forget that law enforcers can’t solve crimes without the help of forensic toxicology.

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