As a former Private Investigator who used to contract with the local ICE (Integrated Child Exploitation) as a computer forensics technician, I applaud your efforts to try and dispel some of the myths about police work.
I've been privvy to a lot of stuff your average civilian wouldn't be, and as far as I know I was one of only a handful of civilian contractors in my Province's history to be allowed to carry a concealed weapon and assist the police in making arrests. (I never actually arrested anyone, but I did participate in 3 raids that netted thousands of child porn images and videos)
I was only allowed on these raids after taking the required firearms and dynamic entry training, and I was always the last to go in. My purpose was to get to the computer equipment as fast as possible in case the bad guys had any kind of failsafes to wipe the HD's, and on the second raid that's exactly what happened.
I'm still under an NDA so I can't go into any detail until after the trials, but all 3 cases are air tight. Unfortunately we both know how long the Judicial system takes, both in the US and Canada. That's another thing these cop shows don't tell you.
I don't know how many times I've seen a CSI or some similar show where their computer software (Why do they always have sound effects? None of my forensic programs had sound effects) does something ridiculous like taking a grainy cell phone image and sharpening it to near HD quality, or reconstructing a suspect's face from a few pixels reflected in a rear view mirror from a couple of kilometers away. For the record, COMPUTERS CAN NOT DO THIS.
The biggest challenge for me when I'm called as a witness will be to explain the inner workings of a computer and how data is forensically copied bit for bit to a sanitized hard drive and then examined, a lot of people will be staring blankly at me as I explain Hash counts, disk sectors and common hiding places for data on a Hard Drive that your average windows user wouldn't have a clue about. That's the part that worries me, but I have at least another year before I go to court. Yay. Friggin' defense lawyers and their drawn out discoveries and voi dire...
I got out of the business for personal reasons, but if they were ever to ask me to help with another investigation I don't think I would say no. I like putting bad guys away, I just don't like the ugliness I had to witness and document. Look up "Operation Landslide" on the internet to get an idea of what I had to go through as a computer forensics tech.
Listen to what ace_of_something
is telling you boys and girls, you just might learn something. Oh, and P.I.'s like donuts, too. I'm partial to dutchies myself