Law & Order: BS

In the criminal justice system, television shows that ignore their technical advisors are considered especially heinous…

Here are my notes from watching tonight’s Law & Order SVU:

Before it’s even started: “…an elite squad” my ass. Nobody voluntarily went there. You got drafted there or it was to fulfill a contract – you did your time there, then they took care of you and you got to go where you really wanted to go. It also has one of the highest, if not the highest attrition rates of any squad, for obvious reasons. Nobody wants to deal with those kinds of cases day in and day out.

OK first scene, the women walking down the street. Here’s the problem with people, a prime example of sheep. This guy was walking behind them for several seconds and they didn’t even notice him.

Second of all, don’t ever fight with someone who’s trying to rob you, don’t try to be a tough guy, don’t ever do anything to agitate them.

Third, Special Victims does not investigate homicides. They just don’t. They only investigate sex crimes. If there was a sex crimes angle to a case, they might assist, but that’s it. They don’t interview people, they don’t chase suspects, they don’t do any of that in homicide cases.


Who has that CNN big screen visual shit? I’ve never seen that in any squad room I’ve been in.

Highest quality surveillance cameras ever, too, with super high resolution. Never seen that either.


I like the way they conduct these interviews. They have incredible memories because they never write anything down when they conduct these witness interviews, so later when they transcribe it all to a DD-5, they do it all from memory. A defense attorney would rip them a new one when they had no notes from their interviews.


Now they’re arresting the guy and reading him his rights in front of everybody at the hair salon. I have never, in all my years as a detective, read someone his rights at the moment I arrested him. Never. Miranda is required when you have two elements: custody and interrogation. If you just have custody and you haven’t begun to interrogate, you don’t need to read him his rights. Once you are ready to interrogate, you are required to give Miranda, but not before then. I can arrest you, I can hold you for 20 hours in my squad room, and if I’m not ready to question you, I don’t have to give you Miranda because I’m not asking you anything. You can start confessing in that time, I don’t have to give you Miranda. You can implicate yourself, I don’t have to give you Miranda. I can say “uh huh” and let you keep talking, but as long as I don’t ask a question, I don’t have to read you your rights. Now, the moment I ask you a question, I have to give you Miranda.

So why am I going to read someone his rights when I don’t have to? What if he decides to spontaneously confess on the way in the car? Why am I going to discourage that?


How did he get these ballistics so quickly and get all these photos uploaded? Nothing happens that fast.


So now he’s part of this sting operation with the feds? That would never happen, never. They would never bring in an outsider unless they had been involved since the beginning, like with narcotics. They’re letting him participate just to keep an eye on this guy. No way.

They make it seem so simple like you can just step into an undercover role like that, and it’s not. It takes time. You have to have a lot of experience to be able to do it, especially for something that high-level. And these guys would never just meet with some random guy brought to them by some low level connection, give him some pussy patdown, and bring him to the location where you have all that product. First of all, they’d never meet him there, they’d meet him somewhere else. Then, they would have probably made him strip down completely, searched him all over for a wire or something.
There’s two thing that these guys are afraid of, whether it’s drugs or some other smuggled goods, and that’s the cops and ripoffs. They don’t want some other guys coming in and stealing all their product.


That is a pretty realistic portrayal of feds though. That’s all I’ll say about that.


Here we go, the guy just happens to be there exactly when the cops show up. If cops were only that lucky all the time, man…


An ADA cannot just offer a deal to someone without a defense lawyer present. Not only are they not supposed to, they actually can’t do it.


OK they would never just walk into an agency like that to arrest someone. There’s protocol – you talk to a supervisor, etc. You don’t just barge in and arrest someone. And no ATF agent would be talking to the cops without a lawyer present.


Now they’re talking to a potential witness within earshot of the suspects? Never ever.


Then, these trained and elite detectives didn’t notice that this girl’s behavior was peculiar when she came up there? It was obvious something was up.

You never would allow the family member of a victim to come upstairs in a squad and look at perpetrators who had been arrested in connection with the rape and murder of her mom. And there’s no squad room that I know of with the cell right in the middle of the floor completely open like that.

Final thought: I wouldn’t have shot the girl. I would have let her plug the scumbag, then tackled her. But that’s just me.

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13 responses to “Law & Order: BS

  1. The security camera thing always bugged me. Only thing worse are the crystal clear ATM cameras.

    Although Tosh.0 had a video with the clearest security footage I’ve ever seen last night so I suppose its possible. Just hella unlikely.

  2. I love this! I haven’t even seen the episode yet but just your dissection of the opening was great. I love SVU but that show really is fiction. Great post!

  3. You had me at the opening comment.

  4. Eddie, I love this post! It is so much fun to see another law enforcement professional tackling all the things SVU got wrong. Great points. The only thing I disagree with is your evaluation of the feds. As a federal prosecutor myself, I think we’re the good guys!

    Here’s my sex-crimes prosecutor’s perspective on last night’s episode: http://www.allisonleotta.com/blog.

    • Thanks Allison – I’m glad you stopped by. I enjoyed reading your review as well – nice to see another realistic perspective on the show.

      I hope you didn’t take my little dig at the feds the wrong way haha. I was writing that as I watched the scene where the guy gets hit in the face with a crowbar, then sits up all bloody and says “Hey we got the bust!” You have to admit that you guys can be pretty single-minded sometimes!

  5. I loved this post. I’m a lawyer who used to do criminal defense and I love Law & Order, but I always thought SVU was the worst of the bunch at getting the law wrong. I guess it was too much to ask that they at least get the police stuff right. 😉

    • Thanks for your comment and taking the time to read my blog. I think we both understand that it’s TV and theatrics, but it still gives people the wrong impression. They have technical consultants that advise the show, but then they get these things wrong, even little things that don’t have anything to do with the plot – it just drives me crazy.

  6. That was amazing and now my sides hurt form laughing so hard!! I can’t wait until next season.

  7. I’m glad that you enjoyed it. I hope that Ice T’s wife makes a cameo next season as Olivia’s secret lover.

  8. I used to like L&O:SVU, but something I NEVER believed from the jump was these four or so cops would be working Special Victims for all these years. The burnout rate alone would dictate rotating them out for their own and the public’s good. Plus,how many murders does a normal cop deal with in their career when they aren’t working in Homicide?

    That’s why I finally gave up on the show. It just got more and more progressively ridiculous. Are there that female ADA’s in NYC? Eliot and Olivia might have been able to go 12 years without jumping each others bones, but in the same squad? Don’t believe the hype.

  9. The burnout rate was always an issue in the Special Victims Unit. You did occasionally come across a Detective that truly enjoyed working in Special Victims, and would spend a lot of years there. That was rare though. Homicides are certainly not investigated by the Special Victims Unit. They are investigated by the PDU(Precinct Detective Unit) where the homicide was committed. The Detective assigned to that precinct who caught the homicide would be the so called ‘lead detective’, and would have case responsibility. In New York City the Homicide Squad would act as more of a task force that would assist precinct detectives in their investigations.

    As far as Eliot and Olivia are concerned. I personally would of jumped on Olivia’s bones a long time ago.

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