TV

Police Report #2 – Gotham and The Flash

Written by Nik Havert

It’s time for another police report on the police and crime scene work depicted on Gotham and The Flash. For those new to this column and wondering why I’m qualified to write it, I am a full-time police officer with nearly twenty years experience and a State of Indiana certified crime scene investigator with nearly eight years experience in crime scene work.

Warning: Spoilers ahead. Proceed at your own risk.

Gotham

Episode #4 (“Arkham”): This episode has a big tactical error in it. Near the episode’s climax, Gordon (Ben McKenzie) and Bullock (Donal Logue) confront a hired assassin (Hakeem Kae-Kazim) in the mayor’s home. They each have him at gunpoint from their own side of the room. The assassin rushes the mayor (Richard Kind) and both men shoot the assassin. This is a crossfire situation in which both Gordon and Bullock could’ve ended up dead. Granted, Gordon was kneeling and Bullock was standing, but that’s still dumb. The best way to handle a situation like this would be for one of the men to move closer to the mayor and thus out of the line of fire from the other officer.

Bullock and the Chief (Zabryna Guevara) also commit another error earlier in the episode by drinking coffee on either side of the burned body in the oil drum outside Arkham Asylum. Bullock even throws his coffee cup on the ground after finishing it! Edward Nygma (Corey Michael Smith) also somehow knows the burned body in the barrel has the same puncture wounds as the other two dead men. How he knows this before the body has been removed from the scene and put through an autopsy is anyone’s guess, but he is a quirky genius after all.

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Gordon’s line here should be, “Coffee, you two? Seriously?”

Episode #5 (“Viper”): Bullock brings up a good point early in this episode when he and Gordon go into the robbed convenience store.

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Bullock: “Nobody dead, and we’re homicide.”

Exactly. Gordon and Bullock wouldn’t be handling the robbery call. They should keep the scene secure and find and interview witnesses until robbery detectives get there, however. Once those people show up, Jim and Harvey can go back to their burgers and malts.

Later, back at the GCPD, Edward has figured out what the Viper drug is and can do in record time. He knows this despite admitting that no one has seen anything like this before. His lab at the GCPD must be astounding, but we all know by know that he’s a quirky genius.

A tactical blunder is made when Gordon and Bullock confront the philosophy professor (Peter Maloney) who has helped the Viper (Daniel London) on his quest. The professor, strengthened by the drug, strangles Bullock against a wall outside the apartment. Gordon shoots the old man, twice, with a high-caliber gun at close range. The probability of at least one of those rounds penetrating the old man’s body and hitting Bullock is rather high. Assuming Gordon realized that he couldn’t wrestle the professor away from Bullock due to the man’s Viper-augmented strength and had to shoot him to save Bullock, a better option would’ve been a close range shot from the side to the pelvic girdle. This would break the man down and keep him alive, at least for a short while, for interrogation. More importantly, it also would’ve kept Bullock out of the line of fire.

Episode #6 (“Spirit of the Goat”): In the early flashback sequence, Bullock is right to enter the theatre before backup arrives. In any potential active shooter / killer situation, the first arriving units must make entry in hopes of preventing further deaths. Backup units would be called, of course, but entry must be made.

Apparently the Internal Affairs investigation into Gordon’s shooting of the philosophy professor in the last episode was cleared without trouble, because he’s back at work without a day off.

Bullock has the forensic pathologist (Philip Hernandezcheck the back of the new Goat victim’s neck for an incision that hides an antique penny sewn into the base of the girl’s skull. The pathologist is surprised to find it and states something along the lines of “How did I miss that?”

He missed it because he’s a lazy pathologist. Any proper autopsy involves making an incision along the sides and base of the skull to loosen the scalp. The scalp is then pulled up and over the front of the skull and left drooping on the face. This is done to expose the top of the skull to look for fractures and so the skullcap can be removed to access the brain. He would’ve easily found the hidden penny during this routine procedure.

Bullock does some good detective work in this episode, figuring out the two Goats are connected by their hypnotherapist (Susan Misner) and carry out her orders, but he’s going to have a hard time proving it in court unless she gives another confession. He’s also probably going to be sued by the therapist for shooting her, claiming she wasn’t an imminent threat to anyone.

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Nice detective work, Harvey, but proving it will be another matter.

Finally, Montoya (Victoria Cartagena) and her partner, Det. Allen (Andrew Stewart-Jones), arrest Gordon and Bullock in the GCPD headquarters. As I mentioned in the last Police Report, where’s their proof? How did they file for that warrant? Did they go to the prosecutor and say, “Well, a crime boss (Fish Mooney – Jada Pinkett Smith) told us he did it, and a witness who could easily be discredited in court (a homeless “river rat,” as Allen describes him, with admitted disabilities) saw him do it?” The prosecutor bought this?

The look on her face and Allen’s face when Cobblepot (Robin Lord Taylor) shows up is great. If the show is written right, both detectives will be suspended and / or demoted by the next episode.

The Flash

Episode #4 (“Going Rogue”): There are far too many road officers in the crime scene at the armored truck. This is a big problem with any show involving crime scenes. Crime scenes, when they are properly processed, have as few people in them as possible. All the road officers standing around the tow truck and armored truck are doing is getting in the way and contaminating the scene.

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Eddy: Why are all these people here? Joe: Probably to block the non-existent traffic.

Later, Joe (Jesse L. Martin) chases Captain Cold (Wentworth Miller) for multiple blocks with not only his gun drawn, but also with his finger on the trigger for a few moments. This is a bad tactical error. Running short distances after a fleeing armed felon with your gun drawn and finger off the trigger is one thing, running several blocks with a potential misfire ready to happen is another. At least Joe runs with it at a low ready position with his finger riding the slide as he chases Capt. Cold into the hotel.

Episode #5 (“Plastique”): Why isn’t Joe wearing gloves in the bombing crime scene? Why doesn’t he wear them in any scene? Also, why does Barry (Grant Gustin) keep taking his gloves off before he leaves the scene? Gloves don’t come off until you are well out of the sealed area.

Barry also mentions how he can find no trace of a bomb, which frustrates him because he could get an idea of the bomber’s identity if he could find evidence of it. The show has already established that Barry can (impossibly) identify the make and model of a car by looking at its tire tread and identify victims of histoxic hypoxia with just a glance. Now he is also a forensic expert in explosive devices. The Flash is on track to make Barry Allen the greatest crime scene investigator in the history of mankind. He should be captain of the forensic division by now and using his super speed to zip cross-country teaching new crime scene investigators his amazing powers of memory.

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Barry: I can’t get drunk, but I AM the greatest CSI of all time, so there’s that.

Episode #6 (“The Flash Is Born”): If you’re thinking about starting a career with the Central City Police Department, first consider their pursuit policy.

Apparently the pursuit policy allows roadblocks, as evidenced in the early scene in which Girder (the villain – Greg Finley) has stolen a Hummer and is leading patrol units on a chase. Roadblocks are fine if they offer an exit point, but this one does not. So, there’s a good chance your squad car will be destroyed if you work for the CCPD and are assigned to the roadblock.

The other dangerous thing about CCPD’s pursuit policy is that it apparently allows officers working the roadblock to fire at the oncoming suspect vehicle while road units are directly behind it. Joe and Eddy (Rick Cosnett) open fire at the oncoming Hummer while at least two other squad cars are (giving them the minimum safe distance taught for good pursuit techniques) merely four seconds behind it. Eddy admits to Barry later in the episode that he fired “a dozen rounds” at the Hummer. Any one of those rounds, or any fired by Joe, could go astray and strike one of the road units. Joe and Eddy should’ve been suspended for this action.

Later, when the stolen Hummer is found, no one is wearing gloves at the crime scene. Barry only bothers to put on one for reasons unknown.

Finally, the Girder, like the Mist, is put into the super prison at STAR Labs. As I mentioned in the first Police Report, how does this solve any of the CCPD’s open cases involving Girder? He’ll go on the fugitive list for robbery, vehicle theft, assault, burglary, and kidnapping and remain there forever. The cases involving him will never be closed since he won’t face a trial.

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I’ll just sit quietly at STAR Labs. I won’t, you know, have to eat or poop ever, so I shouldn’t be a problem.

Am I overthinking this? More police reports will be forthcoming! Let us know your thoughts in the comments section.

About the author

Nik Havert