Machine vision and discrete sensors: Laser scanner supports crime scene investigation

Mobile laser scanner platform enables crime-scene investigators to “freeze the scene in time.”
By Control Engineering Staff November 24, 2008

Norcross, GA — The City of Killeen (TX) Police Department became the first police agency in Texas to adopt the Leica ScanStation 2 from Leica Geosystems high-speed, high-definition 3D laser scanning system, which the Leica says is able to quickly measure crime scenes and support criminal investigations with far greater speed and accuracy than conventional methods. According to the company, the mobile laser scanner platform is able to collect 50,000 measurements per second, enabling crime scene investigators to “freeze the scene in time.” The system can be used for forensic mapping at crash and homicide scenes, officer involved shootings, bomb/arson investigations and can support the department’s homeland security mission.

Leica ScanStation 2 helps forensic teams
Leica ScanStation 2

Tony Grissim, Forensic Account Manager for Leica Geosystems said, “The traffic we are seeing on our forensicweb site , tells us that interest in our product is keen, especially since it started being showcased on A&E’s Crime 360 television series.”
As first responders to an event, detectives will use the equipment to obtain photos overlaid onto laser-scan measurements of the scene. Long after the scene has been documented and released, investigators can virtually return to the scene of the crime to make additional measurements or to verify what witnesses could have seen based upon accurately mapped physical environment. The data can also be used to create compelling jury exhibits and simulations which enable jurors to easily understand the layout of a crime scene.
Killeen Police Chief, Dennis Baldwin, says, “This will be an invaluable tool for our detectives. In minutes, they can create a highly accurate snapshot of a crime scene exactly as it appears when they arrive on a scene. This information will provide value to the detectives, forensic analysts and ultimately to jurors if a case moves to trial. Every one of our eight detectives will go through training on and have access to this valuable technology.”
A short time after purchasing the equipment, Killeen police detectives successfully put the technology to work processing a homicide scene. As the investigation continues, the resulting model is being used to solve the crime and if necessary as evidence in court. Mike Waldman, Assistant District Attorney for the Bell County District Attorney’s Office, adds, “We believe the laser scanner will have powerful investigative benefits to the police department and will also provide long-term legal and prosecutorial value to prosecutors in our legal department.”
C.G. Masi , senior editor
Control Engineering News Desk
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