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Police Report #5 – Gotham and The Flash

Written by Nik Havert

Police Report 5 – Gotham and The Flash

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.

This installment takes us to the odd mid-winter break in The Flash, which went on a three-week hiatus for reasons unknown.

Warning: Spoilers ahead. Proceed at your own risk.

Gotham

 

Episode #14 (“The Fearsome Dr. Crane”): Yes, there are far too many people in that rooftop crime scene. This is apparently par for the course for GCPD.

Later, Edward Nygma (Cory Michael Smith) gets the medical examiner fired by stuffing his locker with body parts to make it appear the M.E. was hoarding them. Two road officers stumble upon the M.E. holding them after the body parts had fallen out of his opened locker. One of those officers later takes one of the arms to the police captain (Zabryna Guevara) to show her what they’ve discovered. In case you missed it, he carries a severed human limb into the common room at the station. He doesn’t wear any gloves, nor is it sealed in any kind of bag to keep blood-borne pathogens from dripping all over him and the station. He turns the entire precinct into a bio-hazardous mess and also makes that piece of evidence worthless.

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Dr. Thompkins: “Did you get your hepatitis shot yet?” Jim Gordon: “Yep, right after they scrubbed down the entire P.D.”

 

Episode #15 (“The Scarecrow”): There wasn’t a lot of police work in this episode, but there were two errors made by Gordon (Ben McKenzie) and Bullock (Donal Logue). The first is by Bullock at the crime scene in which Dr. Crane (Julian Sands) and his son dress up as devils and kill the man in his apartment. When we first see GCPD in the scene, Bullock is moving objects on a shelf. Let’s assume he’s already been told that photographs were completed. He’s not wearing any gloves, however, so he’d better hope fingerprinting is complete as well.

Gordon and Bullock go to Crane’s home later in the episode. They know he is a killer and that he shot at Gordon in the previous episode. Yet, Gordon and Bullock decide it’s a good idea to roll up to the front door of the Crane home with not only the car’s headlights on, but also with a red “gumball” emergency light activated. Why not just blast their sirens and hang out the window yelling, “Here we come!” while they’re at it? Someone needs to teach them the value of a tactical approach.

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“It’s all right, son. We’ll have plenty of advance warning if the police come. Trust me, they’re morons.”

 

Episode #16 (“The Blind Fortune Teller”): Here’s a tip for you if you’re considering a career as a homicide detective – Don’t let a kid see his murdered mother in a dirty wagon under a tarp. Gordon does exactly this when he discovers the dead body of the circus snake charmer. The look on Gordon’s face indicates he knows what he’s going to find under that tarp. Instead of lifting it a bit to confirm his suspicion, he goes for the big dramatic reveal while the victim’s son, Jerome (Cameron Monaghan), is standing right there to see his dead mother. He should’ve asked someone to take Jerome away from the scene. Good luck with that lawsuit.

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Gordon: “Hey, kid, wanna see your dead mother full of stab wounds?” Jerome: “Sure. Sounds great. That won’t be traumatizing at all.”

 

Gordon’s captain later, smartly, calls Gordon out on following a snake to find the victim. I’m sure she was imagining how he’s going to explain that in court.

Gordon and Dr. Leslie Thompkins (Morena Baccarin) are later looking for evidence in the murder by following up on a clue given to them by the blind fortuneteller mentioned in the episode’s title (the always reliable Mark Margolis). They find a bloody hatchet in a park. Gordon then ruins the potential evidence by (A) not even taking a photo of it with his phone, (B) not calling for a crime scene investigator to photograph and collect it, and (C) carrying it from the scene – thus ruining the hatchet and the scene for photographing since he can never put it back exactly as he and Leslie found it. Sloppy, Jim Gordon, very sloppy (but at least he was wearing gloves, I’ll give him that).

I did like how Gordon played his hunch on finding the suspect. Cops play hunches all the time and this one felt natural to the character and not forced. Bullock’s detective work on Gordon’s love life was also quite good.

Episode #17 (“Red Hood”): In keeping up with tradition, GCPD allows too many people in the crime scene at the first bank robbery. Gordon, however, does the smart thing and reviews the video evidence. Any good detective or crime scene investigator will do this as soon as possible because (if the video system works) it saves a lot of time in the investigation. Gordon can tell there’s no reason for CSI units to process the whole bank because he can see where the Red Hood Gang were and, more importantly, were not. Gordon wisely gets the older video footage from the gang’s “test run” and is able to identify a work shirt for an auto mechanics’ shop worn by the man in the red hood. Good police work there.

At the shop, Bullock decides, “Screw this crime scene” and pops open a bottle of soda directly over a dead body. Gordon gives him a great “WTF?” look and Bullock says, “If I don’t drink it, forensics will.” How does Harvey Dent get so many prosecutions if the CSI units in Gotham City are so sloppy?  Never mind that bottle could’ve been used for fingerprinting to possibly identify other members of the gang. Bullock also eats leftover pizza in the scene, apparently before GCPD’s CSI units get their greedy hands on it.

Gordon and Bullock set up a classic line-up in an attempt to find the leader of the gang, and Gordon wisely comments about how the men in the line-up don’t all have similar characteristics. He’s right to be concerned because any results from that line-up would probably be thrown out in court with claims the line-up was arranged to influence the witness.

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Bullock: “No, really. This line-up will work.” Gordon: “Remember how the mayor wants me sacked? You’re not helping me, Harvey.”

 

The two detectives eventually track down the rest of the gang and eventually get in a gunfight with them. All the officers at first keep cover behind their cars. Gordon and Bullock soon emerge to take the last member into custody, but end up gunning him down when he draws on them. They do this while other cops are firing behind them. Gordon and Bullock should’ve been furious at this.

Finally, the worst error of the entire episode happens when Gordon removes the red hood from the last gang member but apparently discards it in the scene because a kid soon enters the crime scene, picks it up, and puts it on his head. The mask is a key piece of evidence to all three burglaries and Gordon just tosses it? There goes his credibility on the stand.

The Flash

Episode #13 (“The Nuclear Man”): There wasn’t much police or CSI work in this episode, but there was one trope used that always gets under a CSI’s skin.

Cicso (Carlos Valdes) and Joe (Jesse L. Martin) go to Barry’s old home to re-examine the crime scene. The interplay with the flirtatious woman was funny and, believe it or not, happens more than you’d think in real life. Cisco creates a device to read imprints left on an old mirror during the assault on Barry’s (Grant Gustin) mother. Joe sends the woman who owns the house “to the movies.” Huh? She’s a rather trusting woman to just leave the house for a couple hours while two guys do whatever they want in there, even if they’re conducting an official investigation.

Cisco and Joe find some blood spatter left behind in the fight between the Flash and the Reverse Flash. This spatter is on a wall behind new wallpaper and is well over fifteen years old. Can DNA be recovered from something that old? Yes. Would it be after being contaminated by wallpaper glue? Maybe.

Back at the Central City Police Department, Cisco enters the sample he’s gathered into a miraculous DNA testing computer and immediately gets two profiles. He then says he’ll simply “run it against the criminal database” to look for a match. This is the trope that makes CSI’s like me cringe.

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Cisco: “I’m telling you, I can get DNA results faster than Barry can open a jug of milk.” Joe: “Really? Because you’ll be a millionaire if that’s the case.”

 

Yes, DNA gathered at a scene is examined for profiles and, if one is found, entered into the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) and the National DNA Index System (NDIS) to look for potential matches in the system. This can take, at the least, a couple hours. It does not happen in an instant. Getting a profile from a sample doesn’t take an instant. It can take hours. Depending on the backlog of the laboratory, getting DNA results can take months. Cisco was doing this as a private consultant, so the results will be faster, but they won’t show up in the blink of an eye.

Joe asks Cisco if he can compare the standards to the DNA of Dr. Wells (Tom Cavanagh). Cisco refuses, but I was left wondering where Joe got a comparison standard from Dr. Wells. Did he snag something from Dr. Wells’ house in episode #11? Cisco should’ve told Joe that Dr. Wells wouldn’t be in CODIS / NDIS (Or would he? – insert ominous music here) so, no, he couldn’t compare it to Dr. Wells without a comparison standard.

Episode #14 (“Fallout”): Hey, remember when Captain Cold (Wentworth Miller) and Heat Wave (Dominic Purcell) were freed from the armored truck taking them to Iron Heights Prison? It’s okay if you don’t, because neither does anyone on the Central City Police Department.

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“Hi. Remember us? No? Whew. Thanks.”

 

No one is talking about how they escaped and (we’re left to presume by the sound of the all the gunshots when it happened) killed multiple officers while doing so. I realize that the show’s writers are concentrating on the main storyline of revealing Dr. Wells’ treachery, but not one person, not even Joe or Eddy (Rick Cosnett), has mentioned it. Trust me, the CCPD would immediately be informed of their escape and the deaths of the transport officers. There would be a massive manhunt happening, but it isn’t. Joe’s too busy trying to figure out who the Reverse Flash instead of tracking down two career criminals who have killed and tried to kill multiple officers (including him).

There wasn’t much police or crime scene work in this episode, but the idea of Joe being able to waltz into Barry’s old house almost at will is ridiculous – even if the current owner is hot for him. He even has a key! Did he and the home owner hook up tat some point?  Plus, why on Earth is that equipment still there? The homeowner has certainly seen it by now and would be asking a hundred questions about it, even if they were as simple as “How does this work?” Is she still at the movie theatre?

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