NFSTC Guide Acknowledges Laser Scanning as “Crime Scene Sketching” Tool

Oct. 16, 2013 – The National Forensic Science Technology Center has issued an updated and expanded version of its publication “Crime Scene Investigation, A Guide for Law Enforcement.” The 180-page document was developed by forensic experts and offers a step by step guide to approaching and processing a crime scene. The guide should prove to be very valuable to anyone involved in crime and crash scene investigations.

CSI Guide coverThe guide recognizes that new technology makes use of laser scanning devices as a method to perform crime scene sketching. It also recommends that the use of these devices be reserved to investigators trained in their use. This acknowledgement helps validate the use of scanning at crime scenes and illustrates the importance of quality training programs such as the Leica Geosystems Public Safety Group’s Certified Training program.

A Standard for Measurement Accuracy

Of additional importance to those involved in documenting crime scenes is the guide’s requirement that measurements made at the scene be accurate to within ¼ inch and that the accuracy of “all” measuring devices should be ensured by comparison to a measure of certified accuracy, such as a National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) traceable ruler.

It is important to note that NIST has partnered with the Department of Justice to establish and oversee the National Commission on Forensic Science. The commission will have responsibility for developing guidance concerning the intersections between forensic science and the courtroom and developing policy recommendations for the US Attorney General, including uniform codes for professional responsibility and requirements for training and certification. The commission will consider guidance on practices for federal, state and local forensic science practitioners. It seems all but certain that additional stringent guidelines will be forthcoming regarding how crime scenes are documented.

Meeting Crime Scene Measurement Challenges

Law enforcement agencies that deploy Leica Geosystems’ laser scanners will be equipped to meet these new challenges and achieve the accuracy recommendations for their scene measurements. These agencies will also be able to validate their measurements as needed through the use of the Twin Target Pole, which has already been recognized by NIST as a traceable scanning artifact.

A free copy of the NFSTC guide can be downloaded through the NIC website.

To learn more about laser scanning solutions that can help your agency optimize crime and crash scene investigations, please contact us.

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