Criminal Minds is an American crime drama where the Behavioural Analysis Unit (BAU) of the FBI analyse the behaviour and psychological mindset of the unknown subject (the person whose crimes are being investigated) to understand and predict their moves. The profilers in the TV series focus on the victims and criminals themselves; there are other crime professionals that aid in the procedure of discovering the unknown subject such as the medical examiners. Medical examiners determine the cause of death, examining the bodies post mortem, and assisting in crime examinations that didn’t result in death. Being trained to specialise in forensic pathology, to diagnose causes of death that are unprecedented or violent in a laboratory or the actual crime scene.
The TV series well represented forensic pathology acknowledging the extensive, post-mortem examination in the laboratory and how the medical examiners analyse attained data of clues by internal and external investigation of corpses. The forensic medical examiners in the TV series performed autopsies, reviewed the medical history, gathered forensic data for law enforcement’s testimonies in court, reported sexual assault, and determined the post-mortem interval (length of time between death and corpse discovery) similarly to real life. Also, the creators of Criminal Minds ventured into the overlapping scientific fields in which the pathology experts were educated in like toxicology, wound ballistics, trace evidence (materials remaining from the crime), DNA technology, and forensic serology (study of bodily fluids).
Whether in a laboratory, performing autopsies, or at the crime scene, forensic pathologists take precautions by wearing the right equipment on- leaving no skin exposed. This is to avoid potential health risks and cross-contamination of the crime scene: the police secure the crime scene to ensure no evidence is destroyed before the forensic teams arrive. At the crime scenes, evidence such as fingerprints, footprints, blood and other body fluids, hairs and fibres. In several episodes of Criminal Minds, the BAU doesn’t take precaution to avoid contamination of DNA present at the crime scenes by either talking over the evidence or using objects like a pen without cleansing it to handle objects at the crime scene. The majority of the time the BAU were present at the crime scene simultaneously with the forensic teams, they could’ve asked for facial masks and instruments for inspecting. Luckily, they were observant enough to wear gloves.
Criminal Minds concluded its 15 series-run last year, they based the TV series on the thesis that profilers may use forensic evidence and psychological profiling to apprehend criminals. Despite the psychological profiling only being accurate 66% of the time according to the findings of the known ‘Coals to Newcastle’ report, it is a TV series involving themes of science worthwhile to watch that teaches terminologies. The forensic pathology element of Criminal Minds introduced me to a new career in Biology that I would enjoy exploring. It was realistic by presenting those able to aid investigators and prosecutors in the STEM field by providing forensic evidence to prove a crime had been committed and to help solve it. Criminal Minds gave me consolation that you can make the world a better place from behind the scenes.
By Oluwafunmilayo, a Year 10 students from Harris Academy Chafford Hundred