Davenport police show off 3-D laser scanner


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Originally Posted Online: Nov. 28, 2012, 8:31 pm
Last Updated: Nov. 28, 2012, 9:29 pm
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By Rachel Warmke, rwarmke@qconline.com
The first 3-D laser scanner used by police in Iowa has been purchased by the Davenport Police Department and will be used to reconstruct replicas of major incident scenes.



The department worked nearly two years to research and acquire the Faro Laser Scanner, which can be used to reconstruct scenes of shootings, arson, homicides and vehicle crashes, as well as document blood spatter and bullet trajectories.

"I think the stuff people see on TV is fake; this is reality," Davenport police Cpl. Kris Mayer said, adding that the scanning technology will allow lasting preservation of evidence.

"You have the Polaroid, then you had film, then you had digital. So we're still presenting that evidence, we're just presenting it in a different way."

The project cost about $71,111, includingthe $43,000 scanner, training, software, accessories and maintenance agreements. About 99 percent of that was funded with grants, including $67,185 from the Scott County Regional Authority, $1500 from Redding Forensics and $1,900 from a department-run class.

The Scott County State's Attorney's Office and Bi-State Regional Commission were among those involved in the project.

Crime scenes that used to take hours, if not days, to comb over now can be scanned in about 30 minutes with the scanner, which the department has been using since August.

In addition to aiding police investigations, the 3-D renderings can be saved and submitted as evidence to show to juries during trials, Cpl. Mayer said at a news conference Wednesday at the Davenport Police Department.

"I've been in court many times where the question is posed, 'What was this area of the scene like?' Well, if it wasn't photographed at the time, nobody knows. All I can do is to describe it to the best of my knowledge. Whereas now, with this equipment, you scan a scene and that entire area is saved indefinitely," he said.

In the courtroom, the scanner will recreate a crime scene more "vividly," Scott County State's Attorney Michael Walton said during the news conference. It has not yet been used in a Scott County court case.

"The days of us walking into a courtroom with a easel and a pad of paper are changed.We've got to keep up with this technology," Mr. Walton said, adding that in order to be admissible in court, the scans will have to be verified as accurate by witness testimony.

The machines have been used in larger police departments and in the private sector across the country, and have been accepted in federal courts.

The Davenport police scanner will be a multi-jurisdictional tool and, although primarily used in Scott County, Davenport Sgt. Ron Waline said they will lend the machine to surrounding counties as needed.

A rotating mirror and a laser inside the scanner can measure a scene and create a scan of it, Cpl. Mayer said. Multiple scans then can be combined using software to create 3-D renderings called "point clouds."

He said those same point clouds often are used to construct the backgrounds and environments found in video games.


















 



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