Quality Magazine

Off-Topic: Forensics Meets 3-D Laser Scanning

March 30, 2009
After seeing first-hand how the Leica Geosystems ScanStation 2 can be deployed to quickly measure and model extensive indoor and outdoor mass casualty mock crime scenes, the California Department of Justice’s Bureau of Forensic Services (BFS) purchased two of the high-speed, high-definition 3-D laser scanning systems.

The California Department of Justice’s Bureau of Forensic Services uses the Leica Scan Station 2 to document, diagram and measure crime scenes prior to evidence being removed from the scene. Source: Leica Geosystems


After seeing first-hand how the Leica Geosystems (Atlanta) ScanStation 2 can be deployed to quickly measure and model extensive indoor and outdoor mass casualty mock crime scenes, the California Department of Justice’s Bureau of Forensic Services (BFS) purchased two of the high-speed, high-definition 3-D laser scanning systems.

The Leica ScanStation 2 can be used for forensic mapping at crash and homicide scenes, officer-involved shootings, bomb and arson investigations, and also can support a department’s homeland security mission.

As the scientific arm of the California attorney general’s office, BFS forensic scientists collect, analyze and compare physical evidence from crime scenes or persons for state and local law enforcement agencies, district attorneys and the courts. The Bureau of Forensic Services operates a network of full-service laboratories in 10 regional services areas in California, and more than 45 criminalists will be trained how to use the scanners to gather crime scene data.

“The Leica Geosystems ScanStation 2 will provide immediate value for our forensic teams in that they can quickly gather highly accurate data at crime scenes,” says Jill Spriggs, chief of the Department of Justice BFS. “The Scan Station 2 documents, diagrams and measures the crime scenes prior to evidence being removed from the scene. This is a tremendous timesavings for criminalists out in the field. Information gathered from the Scan Station 2 can be used to reconstruct the crime scene later back at the laboratory.”

Developed for versatility and productivity, the mobile laser scanner platform is able to collect 50,000 measurements per second enabling crime scene investigators to “freeze the scene in time.” Criminalists use the Leica ScanStation 2 to photograph and laser scan a crime scene. An embedded high-resolution digital camera within the laser scanner provides detectives with valuable photos of the scene that can be used to aid in scanning and in data processing. After they are gathered, the scanning software produces diagrams, scene reconstructions and other important documentation necessary to every crime scene investigation.

“Most importantly the scan data has been validated for forensic work and passed admissibility hearings in court,” says Spriggs.

The California Department of Justice is the third law enforcement agency in California to select the Leica, joining the California Highway Patrol and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, which own eight Leica scanners between them.

“Leica’s 3-D laser scanning systems are being adopted by more and more law enforcement agencies who recognize that bringing our scanning technology to bear on a case sends a powerful message to everyone that all possible care is being taken to find the truth,” says Tony Grissim, forensic account manager for Leica Geosystems.
    Leica Geosystems
    (770) 326-9557
    www.leica-geosystems.us