In an effort to more efficiently investigate crime scenes, The Washoe County Sheriff's Office Forensic Science Division recently purchased an ultra-high speed 3D laser scanning system. 

It will help to more efficiently and accurately document crime scenes--something that, currently, can take days to do manually. Renee Armstrong, Supervising Criminalist with the Forensic Science Division says, "This will actually speed that up and will actually create 3D models in a quarter of the time. That 30 hours can be an hour."

So how does it work? The forensics team takes the device to the scene of a crime and places it on a tripod where it then scans its environment. Sam Elsaid, Owner of Precision Survey Supply explains, "This unit scans a million points per second."

The scanner's accuracy is not affected by weather, environment or even light. Elsaid continues, "We can be in a pitch black environment and still capture a crime scene in 3D."

Wednesday, the team was in their second day of training on their new piece of equipment. After about 45 minutes at a mock crime scene were they tested the technology out--the scene was already completely processed and it was back to the office to upload.

The data from the scanner is transferred onto a computer and logged into the crime base system. Investigators are then able to accurately review locations of items at the initial crime scene and their relationship to one another.

Moving his cursor around the 3D crime scene on his computer, Elsaid demonstrates, "We rotate around and literally start seeing in 3D the placards that were placed out in the environment."

The technology is especially helpful in cases where there is blood spatter and those with firearm trajectories. This is because the recreated crime scene offers a perspective view with scales and measurements to all objects.

Elsaid points out one measurement on his screen, "So from this evidence placard to this building, it's 11.343 feet."

The main takeaway is the scanner's efficiency, though. The technology will allow forensic officials to present accurate crime scene evidence to their respective agencies, district attorneys and jurors within a day or two, if not hours.

Armstrong says another benefit of the quick-acting technology is the fact it will allow investigators to clean up crime scenes quicker and, in some cases, open up any road or neighborhood closures caused because of it. 

For more information about the device, click here.