interest in forensics among young people. Science and forensics programs are proliferating at colleges and universities around the country.

"When I go out and do career days and talk to high-school and college students, people are really interested in becoming forensic scientists now," Marquis said. "Although, I don't think they realize how much work it is."

That could mean an influx of good people to the field - a factor that's more important than slick new equipment, Fisher said.

"The most important thing in crime labs today is the quality of the staff," he said. "Most of the things we do are labor intensive. It's not so much the equipment that solves the crime; it's the quality of the people who are using the equipment, and their ability to recognize things they're looking at and figure out how it's related to a particular case. That's oftentimes the key between a successful investigation and one that's not."

Krane agreed, saying the popularity of fictional crime shows could boost the quality of both real-life analysts and the technology they use.

"It's conceivable that in another 10 or 15 years, there may even be handheld things you could use at a crime scene as opposed to the refrigerator-sized things that are the workhorses right now. Analysts down the road will be better, smarter, faster - and maybe even better looking."
Jim McKay, Justice and Public Safety Editor  |  Justice and Public Safety Editor