Author Spends Quarter-Million Defending Donation


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.


  1. I think I can see her point, though… Some folks watch all the CSI shows and think that makes them some sort of expert on crime scene analysis or something.
    I can’t see that her donation will do any harm so… *shrugs* no big deal.

  2. IMHO, Cornwell went off the rails in her books awhile back–maybe 7 years ago or so–but she’s always been opinionated. I can respect that. However, I no longer read her books: they are far too preachy and just plain weird (in a bad way). The end point for me was the book that just STOPPED at the end, to be continued in her next book. No resolution, nothing, just…stay tuned. And the hairy ‘wolfman’ thing–too much. Stop.

    I love CSI, and watching it has made my son want to go into forensics as a career. We do have a very good time picking some of the obvious stupid stuff apart (like the fact that none of the women EVER pull their hair back when handling evidence!), but Cornwell…she’s gone as completely nuts as Scarpetta has.

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Patrick is a Christian with more than 29 years experience in professional writing, producing and marketing. His professional background also includes social media, reporting for broadcast television and the web, directing, videography and photography. He enjoys getting to know people over coffee and spending time with his dog.