New law enforcement gear comes to So. Georgia - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

New law enforcement gear comes to So. Georgia

By Sarah Baldwin - bio | email

July 8, 2008

THOMASVILLE, GA (WALB) - A new piece of equipment is putting the Thomas County Sheriff's Office on the cutting edge of crime scene detection.   It's called the Leica ScanStation 2,  and it's the first one of its kind in Georgia.

 When a crime is committed, police rush to the scene, tape off the area and painstakingly record the evidence. But what happens when they have to clear the crime scene?

 "You're always going to look back at the data you recovered and think, 'oh I didn't get that or I should have got that' but a lot of that is hind site is 20/20," said Crime Scene Technician Andy Forte.

This morning investigators, prosecutors, and law enforcement agencies from around south Georgia watched as the Leica ScanStation 2 demonstrated how crime scene investigation is changing.

 "Most law enforcement who understand what this system can do regard it as the forensic mapping tool of the future," said Forensic Account Manager Tony Grissim.

Investigators can set up the 3-D laser scanner and, hooked up to a computer, it maps the entire crime scene exactly.

"Before we had to manually measure the scene using tape measures and manual measuring devices. With this we set up the scanner in the scene. It takes its own measurements, it takes millions of measurements at a time," Forte said.

"This enables them to look at different witness view points, just have a better understanding of the scene," says Grissim.

And long after the crime scene is cleared, it allows them to preserve it as a virtual crime scene forever.

"Cold homicides or other cases that take a long time to investigate, you can go back and revisit the crime scene as you captured it," Forte said.

"In addition to be able to document a scene and freeze it in time forever, it also enables them to create many different types of products that will be helpful in the jury room," Grissim says.

Thomas County may own the laser, but they say agencies in our area and throughout Georgia can request to use it for major crime scenes too. "That's the only way law enforcement will be effective is to work together," Forte said.

Besides permanently having the crime scene on hand, the technology allows technicians to process the scene much faster, many times giving investigators a head start on catching the criminals.

The ScanStation is also used by land surveyors and engineers, but a growing number of law enforcement agencies are buying them.

Thomas County purchased the $180,000 laser with a grant from Homeland Security.

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