Local CSI teams using 3D laser scanners at crime scenes - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Local CSI teams using 3D laser scanners at crime scenes

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CARLSBAD, Calif. (CBS 8) -- Local crime scene investigators are using a new tool to map out crime scenes.  High-tech laser scanners create amazingly detailed 3D renderings that can help crimefighters retrace the steps of a killer.

All it takes is a checkerboard placard and spherical markers, strategically placed throughout a crime scene for the scanner to start mapping out the area.

Carlsbad police purchased the $50,000 scanner a couple years ago with federal grant money.  It’s called a FARO Focus 3D scanner.

It uses a spinning laser combined with a high-resolution camera to scan the entire demonstration area in about 10 minutes, with accurate measurements down the millimeter.

“It’s actually 976 data points a second,” said Carlsbad police evidence specialist Kristine Duran.

“Before, we had to use rulers and tape measures and distance meters,” said Duran.

Now, the scanner records everything.  Investigators get an accurate, 3D recreation of the crime scene that can be viewed on a computer from all different angles.

“So you're not just relying on the still photography that we take at a crime scene or the video, you can actually fly from room to room and get a real good perspective of what the scene was like,” Duran said.

It can handle everything from vehicle accident reconstruction, to entire building scans, to single rooms or hallways inside a house.

“It's very good at painting the picture of what the scene looked like at the time we responded to it,” said Carlsbad police special investigations Lt. Matt Magro.

The scanner can pickup details as small as a crack in the road or evidence like a bullet shell casing or a handgun.

The renderings can then be shown to jurors in the courtroom months or years after the crime was committed, so they can visualize the crime scene.

“Jurors do have that expectation when they watch the CSI programs that the police department and evidence collection is expanding and keeping up with technology,” said Lt. Magro.

The Carlsbad Police Department plans on using the 3D renderings in court in the coming months.

Oceanside Police and San Diego Sheriff’s investigators also use laser scanners as part of crime scene investigations.
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