For starters, several rush to point out, CSI's college-educated, city-roaming cast of characters would, in real life, belong to the ranks of don't-get-your-hands-dirty "lab rats" who work within the confines of state and regional crime laboratories. Some of these labs do, in fact, field mobile units to assist local police with the occasional scene investigation, "but most of the time, we're on our own," says Tim Horne, an investigator with the Orange County, North Carolina, sheriff's office. "We collect it, and 90 percent of the time, we process it ourselves." And in
a typical, medium-size law-enforcement agency such as Horne's, in-house processing means whatever the local investigators can pull off in the ad hoc evidence room.