TV

Police Report #4 – Gotham and The Flash

Written by Nik Havert

It’s time for another 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 #11 (“Rogues’ Gallery”): There isn’t much police work in this episode for me to criticize and no crime scene work whatsoever. So what’s wrong with this episode? It furthers the movie / TV trope of a cop “taking someone downtown.”

Bullock (Donal Logue) comes to Arkham Asylum at the request of Gordon (Ben McKenzie) to investigate the electrocutions of inmates. The head of the asylum, Gerry Lang (Isiah Whitlock, Jr.), wants to keep things quiet, but Bullock takes him downtown (to the station) for questioning.

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Gordon: “Hey, Harvey, how about you take this guy downtown?” Bullock: “Why, Jim? There’s an empty room right over there.?

 

Why not just question him at the asylum? This trope is used when police officers in TV shows and films decide to intimidate someone by interrogating them in a small room. Cops don’t just “take someone downtown” on a whim. Most interviews are done on the street or wherever the interviewee is at the moment. Bullock should’ve just taken Lang to an unused office and questioned him there. Taking Lang to the station, without a charge levied against him, deprives Lang of his personal liberty. Plus, I’m sure Gordon would’ve appreciated Bullock as back-up when the inmates were running wild later in the episode. Too bad he decided to take Lang downtown!

Episode #12 (“What the Little Bird Told Him”): I was happy to see the crime scene involving a van properly marked with crime scene tape and only two officers in the scene maintaining its security. This is the best-portrayed proper crime scene in the show’s history so far.

Later in the episode, the Electrocutioner (Christopher Heyerdahl) sends a massive electrical current through the Gotham Police station, shocking everyone in there into unconsciousness. Gordon, however, stays awake thanks to wearing rubber boots given to him earlier in the episode by Edward Nygma (Cory Michael Smith). Gordon fights the Electrocutioner and his henchman all by his lonesome.

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I just happened to have these lying around.

 

This, of course, makes no sense. Let’s say that everyone in the entire building is unconscious. That means all the officers working the road are not. A department of that size has officers coming into and going out of it at all hours of the day. It’s like a train station in there. Plus, road officers would be calling the station at various times to do everything from consult with a commanding officer or even call in a traffic stop if the GCPD dispatch is in the same building. The road officers would soon realize something bad had happened at the police station, or discover it once one of them walked in with a prisoner or to use the restroom. Where’s Gordon’s back-up during his fight?

Episode #13 (“Welcome back, Jim Gordon.”): Oh dear Lord, where do I start?

Let’s begin with the first homicide scene involving the dead drug dealer strung up on an electric hoist. If you’ve read this column enough, you know by now that there are far too many officers in this scene. Most of those road officers would not and should not be there fouling up the scene for the CSI’s and the detectives; but no worries, Jim Gordon fouls it up for them.

First, Gordon pats down the body, thus moving it, before asking anyone if photographs have been completed. He then activates the hoist controls without asking if anyone’s fingerprinted them. He also does this without gloves in case the hoist control is to be taken as evidence. Finally, he finds the drugs in the heel of the dead man’s shoe, doesn’t take a photograph of them, and then removes evidence from the scene without telling anyone.

Later, Edward Nygma – the quirky genius – tells Gordon and Bullock that the same weapon killed both the drug dealer and the witness. No, Ed, the same type of weapon may have killed them both. You won’t know that until a proper autopsy on both men.

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Gordon: “Really? The same weapon? How do you know?” Nygma: “I’m a quirky genius. Duh! Haven’t you figured that out by now?”

 

Finally, Gordon brings in a taped confession and the bloody murder weapon as evidence of the killer being one of GCPD’s narcotics detectives. The corrupt cop is taken away and charged with murder. Good luck making that stick. How is Gordon going to explain how he landed the taped confession? It was given under duress and taken by a man whose named Gordon doesn’t know. The corrupt cop’s attorney is probably going to get the murder weapon thrown out as tainted evidence since (A) Gordon can’t explain how it came to be in his possession and (B) he dumped it on a public desk and thus compromised it for any DNA processing.

At least Gordon referred to the GCPD’s internal affairs department as “two old guys in the basement,” thus letting us know how he and Bullock keep from getting suspended all the time.

The Flash

Episode #10 (“Revenge of the Rogues”): The show’s writers must have had a heck of a Christmas break because they’ve already forgotten something about Barry Allen (Grant Gustin).

Barry and Joe (Jesse L. Martin) are investigating the garage full of exotic cars broken into by Captain Cold (Wentworth Miller) and Heat Wave (Dominic Purcell). Barry is seen crouching by the pieces of broken / frozen garage door and I waited for him to tell Joe what kind of car the villains were driving. He doesn’t, however. He just tells Joe the door was frozen and they deduce Capt. Cold is back in town. The show’s writers have forgotten that Barry, according to the first episode of the show, can (impossibly) identify the make and model of a car by its tire tread. He doesn’t do this in this episode, despite Capt. Cold squealing the tires of the car as he backs out of the garage – thus leaving plenty of tire tread for Barry to examine.

Later, the police confront Capt. Cold and Heat Wave for the first time. The police are armed with riot shields that have been augmented to resist the beams from Capt. Cold’s cold gun. They know he is dangerous and has killed people with this thing, yet no one takes a shot at him as soon as he walks straight down the street and points his cold gun at them. Not even Eddy (Rick Cosnett), who we know is a crack shot, puts a round into Capt. Cold while he sprays the officers with his cold beam. Huh?

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Eddy: “Do you want me to shoot him?” Joe: “Nah. Let’s wait until he kills one of us or his buddy sets us on fire.”

 

Episode #11 (“The Sound and the Fury”): Why are so many people at the home of Dr. Wells (Tom Cavanagh) investigating what is really a big criminal mischief / vandalism case? A bunch of windows were broken. Dr. Wells wasn’t injured. It’s a lot of monetary loss to replace all those big windows, to be certain, but homicide detectives wouldn’t be there. There might be some burglary detectives there in case something was discovered missing, but it’s really a routine vandalism report.

Later in the episode, Eddy tells Joe that he searched Dr. Wells’ home and found nothing. Excuse me? Searched it for what? Evidence of criminal activity? I hope he had a warrant for that. No, he couldn’t because he had nothing to present to a judge in terms of possible criminal activity by Dr. Wells in order to convince that judge to sign the warrant. So, Eddy conducts an illegal search of Dr. Wells’ house. Any criminal evidence he might’ve found there would’ve been “fruit of the poisonous tree” (to use the legal parlance) and thus inadmissible in court. Now, if Eddy merely searched for things like a bathroom set up for someone confined to a wheelchair and didn’t find such a thing, he wouldn’t need a warrant for that, but the writers don’t let us know so we’re left to wonder if Eddy is conducting illegal searches whenever he feels like it.

Team Flash decides to put the Pied Piper (Andy Mientus) in their “We hope you ate before you got here, because there’s no food.” super prison under STAR Labs. Why? The city knows meta-humans exist since everyone saw the Flash fight Captain Cold and Heat Wave on television. There were plenty of people attacked by the Pied Piper in their vehicles who could easily identify him to the police. He has no super powers that would keep him from escaping a regular prison. He could be kept in isolation in a normal cell and brought up on several assault and attempted murder charges.

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I know this hood does nothing to conceal my face, but none of you will be able to identify me in a photo line-up, right?

 

Episode #12 (“Crazy for You”): This episode had little police work, so I don’t have too many complaints…apart from a big one.

While Joe and Barry are investigating the prison break-out (which a homicide detective like Joe wouldn’t be doing), Barry gets to meet his father (John Wesley Shipp) face-to-face…in the crime scene. Joe claims the guard who brings Barry’s dad there owed him a favor, so why not arrange the meeting in a private cell or even a broom closet instead of allowing a (wrongly) convicted felon to enter a crime scene? The security of the scene is ruined by this heartfelt moment.

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Iris: “So you just let your Dad walk into your crime scene?” Barry: “Well, sure! What could possibly go wro – Oh…Oh yeah.”

 

Am I making too much of all this? Should I just check my brain at the door? Let us know your thoughts by leaving a comment!

About the author

Nik Havert