Orlando Police Department acquires a Leica Geosystems advanced technology 3-D ScanStation for major crime scene mapping and to image city infrastructure for homeland security threat assessments.

Citing its ongoing commitment to acquire the best technology for its criminal investigations,  the Orlando, Florida Police Department recently purchased a Leica Geosystems 3-D laser scanner, a  powerful forensic tool that enables investigators to quickly document and measure a crime scene using laser mapping technology that provides an extremely accurate three-dimensional picture of the scene. The laser system can also provide sophisticated graphic presentations of a crime scene for use by investigators and, later, by prosecutors in courtroom proceedings.

In addition, the agency has begun using the Leica system for crash investigations and to image buildings and other potential soft targets within the city’s infrastructure as part of its homeland security threat assessment and advance response planning.

“We really like the ScanStation’s portability and extreme degree of measurement accuracy,” said Master Sergeant Andrew Brennan of the Criminal Investigations Division, adding that ten members of his staff have already been trained in the system’s operation. “The system gives our investigators a very high level of confidence in the data acquired.”

The Leica Geosystems ScanStation C10 is an easy-to-use, compact and portable 3D laser scanner that can capture 50,000 measurement points per second out to a range of 900 feet. The system also features an internal digital camera for panoramic photography. The technology is used by law enforcement agencies all over the world for crime scene investigation, vulnerability and threat assessments, post-blast investigation, police action inquiries, accident investigations and more.

While the ScanStation is a recent acquisition, the Orlando Police Department is no stranger to the system’s capabilities. In early November 2009, when the agency was looking into acquiring scanning technology, a shooting occurred in the office tower of the Gateway Center in downtown Orlando. A distraught former employee with a handgun, burst into the 8th floor offices and began shooting, killing one and wounding five others. The gunman fled but was captured shortly thereafter. In the immediate aftermath, Leica Geosystems volunteered to deploy a ScanStation C10 to document the crime scene.

“Leica’s representative who had initially come down to demo the product for us, brought in the C10 and scanned a very extensive crime scene,” explained Roger Brennan (no relation to Andrew Brennan), a sergeant with the department’s Intelligence Unit. “This was a very large area with multiple victims and many rounds fired. I would say conservatively that it would have taken us five-to-six days to map that scene, but the Leica folks were finished in less than two days with complete and extremely precise documentation. That was a truly impressive demonstration of a phenomenal tool for crime scene mapping.”

The ScanStation has also proved to be valuable in a training environment. Recently the system was used in a live-fire shooting reconstruction workshop at the department’s shooting range during which shots were test fired into a car. Ballistic trajectory rods were then inserted into the bullet holes and the ScanStation was used to scan the vehicle to capture data that yielded accurate bullet trajectories and the locations from which the shots were fired.  Such evidence is often a crucial element in criminal investigations and police actions.

Sergeant Andrew Brennan anticipates the graphic presentations developed with the Leica ScanStation will be especially powerful in court proceedings. “The C10 is very exciting once it gets into a courtroom. You’ll find a much more attentive jury, because almost everyone has been raised on “CSI” and other crime scene television shows, and they have come to expect impressive displays of evidence. Now, we’ll be able to make a compelling presentation to juries, one that allows us to do a 3-D fly-through of the entire crime scene and look at it from all different angles, to use digital color photos as part of that rendering, and all of it captured just as the police found it, and all archived indefinitely for future use.”

Brennan is also enthusiastic about the ScanStation’s mapping of Orlando’s infrastructure for homeland security purposes. “We have already mapped certain Orlando facilities—both inside and out—and that imaging data is now in the can and ready for quick access should there ever be a critical situation of some kind. That mapping program will be an ongoing process.”