MYSTERY WIRE (LAS VEGAS – KLAS) — In the fictional world of “CSI: Vegas,” Maxine Roby leads a team of crime scene investigators in her high-tech lab off the Las Vegas Strip. In real life, the job is anything but glamorous.
“I really wish we could solve crime in 60 minutes,” Kimberly Murga, Las Vegas Metropolitan police’s director of laboratory services, said.
Two women split Roby’s fictional job. Murga’s forensics laboratory and Kristin Grammas’ Crime Scene Investigations unit work together to solve some of the valley’s worst crimes.
While the CSI world shows the crime scene analysts and forensic scientists working side-by-side, in reality, they work in two separate buildings in a nondescript office park near South Jones Boulevard and the 215.
“It’s nothing like the show,” Grammas, the director of Metro’s CSI unit, said. “There’s is all fancy and they have glass offices and cool lighting. Ours is fluorescent lightbulbs so it’s not as cool, but we still have a lot of the cool technologies that they have on the show.”
“What we do is exciting behind the scenes, but it takes time and it’s not resolved quickly,” Murga said.
During real Metro police work, crime scene analysts will be dispatched to a scene – a felony event such as a murder, assault or robbery. Teams will catalog what they find – fingerprints, blood, hair, anything with a potential clue — and then send it to the forensics lab for processing.
Characters on the CSI shows often do all those jobs; some even do it while directing the department.
“Those responsibilities are not typically shared, but for all intents and purposes on the show, such as CSI, they have to consolidate that so they can get the crime evaluated and solved within their 60-minute limit,” Murga said.
“That is not reality,” Grammas said. Both women added as directors their roles are now strictly administrative. Unlike, the fictional Roby, neither are actually going out to a scene or testing evidence.
Grammas’ team collects the pieces of the puzzle that Murga’s scientists hope to then unlock.
In the decades since the original “CSI” premiered in 2000, a lot has changed.
“One of the biggest changes is in DNA technology,” Murga said. Testing a blood sample the size of a quarter used to take two months, she said. In 2021, her team can test an area the size of a pinhead and get results in a matter of hours.
In addition, the advent of DNA and print databases has added whole new ways to arrest criminals.
“Hopefully us helping solve it for them or figure out what helps them helps them with the closure, so that’s why,” Grammas said.
“Seeing not only that those crimes are solved, but also that justice is served,” Murga said.
Mystery Wire’s George Knapp will appear in several “CSI: Vegas” episodes this fall.