May 16 2014

Law Enforcement Agencies Tap the Power of 3D Scanning

The technology is helping agencies document and recreate crime scenes.

Law enforcement agencies across the country are exploring the benefits of using 3D scanners to recreate crime scenes, especially for incidents that span a large geographic area and require collaboration among multiple entities.

The Roswell Police Department, Fresno County Sheriff’s Office and San Antonio Police are among the growing number of organizations adopting 3D scanning technology to enhance crime scene investigations and present compelling evidence to jurors.

Following the April shooting at Fort Hood, in Texas, investigators had to process a vast crime scene that covered the inside of buildings and several outdoor areas. An Army spokesman said investigators recreated the crime scene by conducting 3D scans of the location and collecting evidence, according to CNN.

In Kansas, dozens of law enforcement officials from multiple agencies are considering how they might join forces and use 3D scanning to gather evidence. The Kansas Bureau of Investigation, Johnson County Sheriff’s Office crime lab, Kansas State office of the Fire Marshall and the Wichita Police Department have 3D scanners, but the kind of collaboration needed to document and recreate a virtual crime scene doesn’t exist today, The Wichita Eagle reports.

According to the newspaper, “In the wake of major incidents such as the fatal shootings last fall at the Navy Yard in Washington, D.C., law enforcement officials have changed their perspective on mass-casualty shootings or terrorist attacks in the United States.” Law enforcement agencies documenting the crime scene took 3D scans to help gather evidence.

But it’s unlikely that scanners will replace manual process, such as photography and surveying the scene. One reason: cost.

Kansas Bureau of Investigation Senior Special Agent David Klamm told The Wichita Eagle that because of the time and cost of using the technology, his organization generally reserves 3D scanning for shootings involving officers, homicides and potential capital murder cases.


Become an Insider

Unlock white papers, personalized recommendations and other premium content for an in-depth look at evolving IT