A new state-of-the-art 3-D scanner will allow Illinois State Police to better record data from crime scenes and juries to virtually place themselves at the scene of a crime.
The scanner allows law enforcement to reconstruct and preserve evidence; measurements traditionally taken by hand with a measuring tape are hyper accurate when measured by the new scanner, the Leica C10.
The scanner sits on a tripod and uses lasers to measure a room and create a 3-D image of the area. After taking two or three, or more, scans of an area, the images are downloaded on a USB and then uploaded to software to create a 360-degree "virtual tour" of a crime scene, according to Illinois State Police Crime Scene Investigator Jerry Zacheis.
He likened the interactive result to reality websites, where someone surfing the web can take a 3-D tour of a home from their computer.
"I think it's really going to help juries understand what the scene looks like," Zacheis said. "It'll probably keep them a little more interested."
Zacheis said the scanner will be used during homicides, officer-involved shootings and other significant crimes.
St. Clair County State's Attorney Brendan Kelly helped state police acquire the scanner, one of just three in the state.
Kelly applied for and received a $150,000 grant from the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority in 2013 for the equipment, software and training. He gave the scanner to the state police, who have been training on the equipment since November.
It already has been used at a couple crime scenes in the metro-east.
"Jurors live their lives surrounded by 21st century technology every day, so the burden is on law enforcement to present evidence in ways that jurors can relate to and trust," Kelly stated. "We have to arm law enforcement with every weapon of justice we can."
Zacheis used the scanner at a recent shooting and said that it took about four hours to scan images from inside and outside of a crime scene.
While the scanner may take more time at the scene of a crime, police think it will be worth it.
Crime Scene Investigator Josh Easton said, "I think the investigation will stay the same, but the documentation and presentation in court will greatly improve."
Contact reporter Maria Hasenstab at firstname.lastname@example.org or 618-239-2460.