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Study Surveys 3D Crime Scene Scanning Devices

NCJ Number
Techbeat Dated: June 2016 Pages: 3-6
Becky Lewis
Date Published
June 2016
4 pages
This article from TECHBeat summarizes a January 2016 report - "Landscape Study on 3D Crime Scene Scanning Devices" - issued by the National Institute of Justice's (NIJ's) Forensic Technology Center of Excellence (FTCoE) to assist public-safety departments make decisions about the purchase and implementation of this technology.

The report provides a basic understanding of 3D laser scanning instruments; their uses, benefits, and limitations; and an impartial comparison of the features and capabilities of commercially available devices. The report contains a chart that compares available devices, and profiles are presented from both manufacturers and users, including lessons learned in the field. It also contains a list of subject-matter experts and stakeholders consulted, a glossary of commonly used terms, and a sample methodology for use. The report cites significant benefits to using 3D laser scanning technology, including accuracy, precision, and objective data collection; and it also is capable of detecting relevant evidence or patterns not otherwise visible. Crime-scene units use 3D laser scanning instruments to gain increased speed and efficiency in obtaining data for bloodstain pattern analysis, shooting-incident reconstruction, traffic- collision data collection, and general crime-scene reconstruction. The technology captures the entire geometry of the scene, ensures longevity in scene preservation, and provides crime-scene analysts with the ability to evaluate the scene and evidence in a holistic manner. It decreases the time required for on-scene traffic-accident investigation and can be used to increase first-responder safety in hazmat events by allowing collection of evidence from a safe distance. Although the technology may be obtained for approximately $50,000, devices with extensive features may cost in excess of six figures. Ways in which smaller agencies might share this cost with other agencies are suggested.