Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Life behind the tape

I was covering the Institute for Global Commerce and Government’s “Camp CSI” yesterday where students stage a murder then led a class through the investigative process. The camp begins with a murder staged in a bedroom and as I waited with the audience for the show to begin I realized how much time I have spent behind crime scene tape.

Standing out this pretend crime scene I started thinking about all the calamities I have covered this year. You can always find the news hot spot by looking for the crime scene tape. Think of it like a cattle fence for journalists. They herd us up to the yellow line as we wait for a glimpse of activity from the crime scene.

I have covered my share of crime scene from behind the tape this year, too many in my opinion. I think I am reaching the level of expert of shooting creatively from behind the crime line, I think I could even teach a class in it by now. There are the creative angles, backlighting the tape, getting it up close in the foreground as the crime scene looms in the distance. There are other views of the tape, stretching around a building or blocking off access to a road or driveway. I think have tried all the different viewpoints there are to see the crime scene tape.

The sad thing is it feels so normal to shoot behind the crime scene tape nowadays. I have been to so many acts of violence, so many crime scenes it seems no more different than to stand on the sidelines of a football game to watch the action.

Hopefully my time behind the crime scene tape will dwindle in the coming months. With the coming city budget cuts and the rise in gang violence I am not optimistic about the prospect. It is a dark and depressing view from behind the tape and one I could certainly live without.

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