This weekend, author Patricia Cornwell spent $250,000 for full page newspaper ads to defend her recent $1 Million dollar donation to the Crime Scene Academy at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York.
Last week, Cornwell told reporters that she decided to donate the money to help teach law enforcement officers how to handle crime scenes after being disgusted by what she saw while following police:
“I’ve seen cops walk through blood. I’ve seen them leave their own fingerprints on a window. I’ve seen bloody clothing put in a plastic bag, instead of a paper bag, so it decomposes.”
In the ads, she says this:
“What has been publicized certainly does not accurately reflect my deep respect and admiration for these hardworking law enforcement professionals.”
And she adds that her comments were directed at the general public, not police.
“I’ve been riding with the police for 30 years. I care about these people and I’m not criticizing them. Any mistakes investigators make are not their fault. Too often they don’t have the training or resources they need, which is what the donation is meant to address.”
She then complained about television shows like CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, which she accuses of “misinforming people about police.” TV, she says, has led people to believe they’re helping police when they meddle with crime scenes. Of course, crime fiction in print would never do such a despicable thing, the author did not add.
I like ‘CSI,’ and I don’t recall seeing episodes that encourage people to tamper with evidence in any way. I’m pretty sure, in fact, that those people who stage evidence generally find themselves in legal hot water by episode’s end.
So if it’s really time that we “take control of our crime scenes again,” as Cornwell has stated, then maybe crime fiction of any kind should be banned universally. That way, no one would ever get a wrong idea.
Think she’d go for that?
She says TV has led people to think they’re helping when they meddle with crime scenes, and cites an instance in which robbery victims laid out index cards highlighting evidence for the police to find.