1. Q: In what ways have our historic roots affected the manner in which criminal investigations are conducted in the United States today? A: The organizational structure of the Pinkerton National Detective Agency, found in 1850 by Allan Pinkerton and the first of its kind in the US, was later adopted by the FBI. As with the Pinkerton Agency, the FBI began to take on cases that local law enforcement were too limited in resources to handle on their own. In addition, Pinkerton created what was called “the rogues’ gallery” which detailed the names and operations of known criminals and their associates. During the European Industrial Revolution, thief catchers (now known as informants, snitches, and a variety of other names) were hired to help law enforcement catch criminals, a practice which is obviously still in use today. In addition, thief catchers were also criminals in their own right, which made it easier to infiltrate the targeted criminals. In eighteenth century Paris, a personal identification system, known as the Bertillon System, became the first system based on the idea that human characteristics such skeleton size and eye color were the same throughout a person’s life. In the mid eighteenth century, the study of fingerprints became a popular way to identify crime suspects. They did not learn until the turn of the century that each person’s fingerprints were unique and could not be changed. Scotland yard, founded in the early eighteenth century, was the model that the FBI modeled itself after initially. All of these are examples in which criminal investigations of today have been influenced, directly and indirectly, by the past and the progress that has been made in the time that has gone by since then.
2. Q: Discuss ways in which the media have affected our perceptions of the reality of criminal investigation. A: As with any field outside the scope of the public arena, the media’s perspective on crime investigation is almost entirely responsible for the perceptions of the general public because the media has a much larger audience. Rather than studying the topic, the general public chooses to get their information from the media. A fantastic example of how the public gains information about criminal investigation in particular, is known as the “CSI effect.” In recent years, numerous TV shows based on the roles and duties of law enforcement and crime scene investigators have received very high ratings from their viewing audience, thereby creating a considerable amount of interest in the field of forensic science. Of course, these shows are rarely ever based on reality, and people often form assumptions about the capacity and range of law enforcement’s abilities regarding investigations, and the idea that law enforcement has virtually unlimited resources. However, in reality, law enforcement is very limited as to what they are able to do in comparison with the space-age type of investigation tools and techniques used on television. There is much more bureaucratic red tape, and the technologies displayed on television simply do not exist. In addition, the CSI effect gives the inaccurate impression that every crime is given individualized attention, and that each crime is solved quickly using the latest in technological advances. Again, the advances used on television do not exist in the real world, and the volume of cases in the real world surpasses any department’s ability to give each of them special attention or to solve each of them in a timely fashion. In reality, many crimes go unsolved, many take a long time to solve, and there is simply not enough time in a day to fixate each individual crime where there are so much more than need the attention of law enforcement.
3. Q: Discuss the role of the FBI and how it has changed criminal investigation over the years. A: The official role of the FBI is to protect the US from terrorist and foreign intelligence threats, to uphold and enforce laws of...
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