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16 Law Enforcement Technology July 2015 www.officer.com EVIDENCE & FORENSICS P rocessing a crime scene—tak- ing pictures, measurements, notes and more—can be a la- borious and pain-staking pro- cess. Anything that can make the job faster, while at the same time improv- ing accuracy, attention to detail, and preserving the scene for later review or presentation to a jury, is a welcome ad- dition to any police department. Today, the technology mainly con- sists of 360-degree cameras and laser scanners, which accomplish different things, both beneficial to law enforce- ment. Police departments all over the world are adopting these technologies to varying degrees. Meet a more robust camera One of the real technological advances in law enforcement has been the devel- opment and adoption of high resolu- tion cameras that are capable of taking a multitude of pictures in a very short time. They can catalog the entirety of the crime scene, but with enough detail to make it a worthwhile tool for investi- gators and for presentation in court. Some cameras are able to take 360-degree images, while others come close. All users agree, however, that these cameras offer tremendous ease of use, great flexibility, and are a real tech- nological breakthrough. "The single most highly used piece of equipment at a crime scene is the digital camera," says Deputy Scott Lehmann, Dane Co. (Wisconsin) Sheriff 's Department. "It creates a permanent visual record of the crime scene in the state it was originally found. Digital cameras allow the inves- tigator to see the image and make proper adjustments to ensure the per- fect photo is taken. "The old days of recreating a crime scene using a tape measure and record- ing the info on paper are gone," he continues. "Thanks to advancements in technology, diagramming and recreat- ing a crime scene is done with Total Stations, Panoramic cameras and now 3D Scanners." Panoscan specializes in digital imag- ing. The company's Mark III panoramic camera shoots 360-degree images in up to 580 megapixels. "The Mark II/MK-3 can achieve 360-degree captures that are better than the human eye; [they are] very good for picking up details and preserving evidence at a crime scene," says Ted Chavalas, president, Panoscan Inc. "The Panoscan camera is more of a visual presentation tool to present in court to a jury. When you show the images to a jury there is no doubt about what they are seeing. It depends on what the evidence is. Some evidence presents well visually, but other things you want are measure- ments, which is why we developed the portable 3D scanner. The Panoscan camera can do some measurements using photogrammetry, but it's not as accurate as a 3D laser scanner." In 360/panoramic photos officers can create hot spots with a link to extra information—close-ups, detail photos, measurement information and more. "The benefit of using a 360 camera is when you are presenting it as evi- dence," says Chris Dryden, commercial director, NCTech Limited. "If all you have is a standalone photograph with no context, it's hard to get a sense of where it is in the scene. The 360 photo- graph provides the contextual relevance so you can experience what it would be like to be in the crime scene. They can move around, left or right, up or A new way to capture crime scenes How 3D scanners, laser scanners and advanced cameras are revolutionizing investigation as we know it by Keith W. Strandberg Deputy Scott Lehmann from Dane County (Wisconsin) Sheriffs Department captures a crime scene.