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What CSI: Miami Gets Right About The Police Cars

Television shows are supposed to reflect reality but often veer away from the truth in interesting ways — especially when it comes to the tiny details. Sometimes that's a result of shooting at sites that are standing in for other locations, as when a show films in Los Angeles but the characters are supposed to be in Miami. Sometimes there are other good reasons for the disparities: Remember when shows used to use seven-digit phone numbers that started with "555" to make sure no one calling those numbers would reach a real person?

A show like "CSI: Miami" — once named the world's most popular TV show (via BBC News in 2006) — depends a lot on bending the truth for dramatic and storytelling purposes. For one thing, it was indeed filmed in southern California during its 2002-2012 run. For another, a lot of the technology doesn't jibe with reality: lab analyses can't be done instantaneously and DNA evidence is not all-encompassing or conclusive as it's represented in the show (via Deseret News). Police sergeant Stephen Miller, who worked for Miami-Dade's Crime Scene Investigation Bureau in 2004, called the tech on "CSI: Miami" "a far cry" from what's actually available, and notes that real CSI agents don't make arrests, interview people, or drive Hummers (via American City and County).

But there is one thing that "CSI: Miami" did get right, and it has to do with the police cars you see in the series.

The phone number on Miami-Dade police vehicles is real

When you see those distinctive white Miami-Dade County police cars in "CSI: Miami" with the blue-green and yellow trim, you may notice that they have a phone number near the back of both the driver's side and the passenger's side. The number reads, "305-4(POLICE)," which translates to 305-476-5423, and what appears to be a sticker to the left of the digits that specifies this is the police's non-emergency number.

This is, in fact, the correct phone number that Miami-Dade residents would use to file non-emergency reports with their county law enforcement officials. Naturally, those who are experiencing emergencies would hopefully know to dial 911 instead. It should be noted that this number is associated with Miami-Dade County, not with the city of Miami; to reach the city police's non-emergency number, people should dial 305-603-6640. The Miami-Dade County law enforcement headquarters is actually located in Doral, Florida, about a half-hour away from Miami.

It's unclear why "CSI: Miami" producers would decide to inject this particular note of realism, although one could argue they are providing a public service by giving exposure to the police's true phone number, should viewers ever need to use it someday.