It’s been shown in movies and television for years. The grizzled, leather jacket wearing detective walks into an empty room and activates a small cube or speaks a command phrase. Then blood, weapons, and a wrecked apartment appear in what was once a blank space. The protagonist picks up where their predecessor left off thanks to the futuristic technology that allows them to investigate crimes from scenes cleaned up long ago.
Today, forensic equipment is moving closer and closer to the type of capability talked about in science fiction. 3D laser scanning technology is being implemented nationwide for CSI use to save time, ensure the safety of officers, and ensure that justice is served.
Laser scanners decrease the amount of time an officer has to spend processing evidence by hand; normally processing a scene can take hours. What is normally a painstaking, drawn out affair, can be made considerably faster with the use of the latest technology. And in some cases, this time saved can mean life and death for an officer.
One of the most common causes of officer injury on the job is due to having to spend time clogging a busy intersection after an accident. Taking pictures of both vehicles, of damaged public property, skid marks and other relevant information takes time and increases traffic congestion in the affected area. When traffic is congested, drivers can become impatient and that can lead to an injured police officer. A 3D scanner greatly decreases the time traffic must be stopped for an accident, and therefore lowers the risk for the officer at the scene.
With the prevalence of crime shows, there has been documented difficulty in criminal cases where jurors fail to understand what amount of evidence is needed to actually convict a person of a crime; this is commonly referred to as the CSI effect. When the prosecution fails to present the kinds of evidence seen in television shows like Law and Order, the jury may find a person who by legal standards should be guilty, as not guilty. A somewhat unintended benefit of 3D scanners is that they can help reduce the effects of this problem in the courtroom.
Without a dramatic confession, a smoking gun, or some other evidence to correlate to the American populace’s expectation, court cases can be overturned in what should be airtight situations. But in real life, the reality of a court case may not be exciting, and the evidence needed to convict someone is not always dramatic.
That being said, 3D scanners allow the prosecution some long needed flair in dealing with this issue. Using the 3D scan of the crime scene, a jury can be walked through what happened in the room virtually as evidence is highlighted where it was originally found. Not only does this technology and systems like it provide the sort of evidence jurors have come to expect thanks to American television, the evidence is factual and was recorded safely by the officers involved. As technology improves, Crime Scene Investigators will continue to use it to ensure the criminal justice system succeeds.