It’s getting to be a joke: the magic things cops can do with computers. “Wait – there’s a reflection in the teakettle! Magnify! Enhance! Now pull a DNA sample from the image! I don’t care, just do it – boost the power if you have to! Crossmatch it with every person named Brent in the continental United States! Damn, this new version of GIMP rocks!”
Annnnd… DING! Three seconds later, up pops the photo of the perpetrator, out go the cops to haul him in and America sleeps a little more soundly tonight.
We’ve grown to accept this, partly because without these little storytelling cheats our streets would be crawling with fictitious master criminals executing horrific, if imaginary, atrocities. And partly because we have a tacit understanding with directors that they’re going to keep us entertained, and there’s nothing pulse-pounding about “Well-elp, might as well take the rest of the week off while this thing renders.”
But maybe what really sells us on the idea of magic high tech down at the precinct is that, deep down, we kind of wish it were true (never mind the bladder-emptying implications for civil liberties and privacy). If we were being stalked by a sociopathic ex-con determined to exact a terrible revenge for our having sentenced him to 30 years in prison, well, dammit, we’d want those nice CSI people to have every tool they needed to stop him in the nick of time.
And maybe, just maybe, that technology could trickle down to, say, the prosumer market. “Computer… draw cartoon!”