Department of Homeland Security Sponsored Training Highlights Benefits of Laser Scanning

By Michael Cunningham, Dec. 2, 2013
When it comes to preparing the nation’s first responders, the United States Department of Homeland Security relies on a core group of training partners to deliver top quality training at no cost to the responder agencies. The National Center for Biomedical Research and Training (NCBRT) is a DHS training partner providing training to emergency responders throughout the United States.
ncbrt-image.jpgThe mission of the NCBRT is to help America prevent, prepare for, respond to, and recover from acts of domestic and international terrorism, weapons of mass destruction, and high-consequence events through teaching, training, technical assistance, and research. Instructors for the NCBRT forensics team have utilized laser scanning for several years and have now updated their scanning gear in a sign that laser scanning is continuing to be recognized as a valuable tool for crime scene investigation, particularly when matters are as serious as terrorism investigations.
One of the more unique training opportunities offered by NCBRT to public safety agencies is the performance level “Advanced Forensic Investigations for Hazardous Environments” course. The course, which is delivered at a host agency’s training facilities at no cost to the agency, is an intensive week of lectures, demonstrations and practical exercises. Scene investigators learn new techniques that will allow them to operate inside a hazardous environment while still being able to safely document the scene and process forensic evidence. Although the course is targeted specifically to crime scene investigation it may also benefit post-blast and arson investigators. The NCBRT logistics team delivers an enormous amount of equipment and gear packed into a tractor trailer to the training site to accommodate all of the needs of 20 participants during the hands-on training.
Leica Geosystems laser scanners are used as part of the crime scene documentation strategies taught during the forensics training. The instructor team, composed of highly experienced crime scene investigators, demonstrates the possibilities of 3D scanning using the ScanStation C10 (equivalent to the ScanStation PS10) and shows the benefits of using Leica Geosystems scanners to document critical incident scenes. Some of the key features that make the Leica ScanStation C10 3D laser scanner so valuable when investigating potential acts of terrorism resulting in hazardous crime scenes include:

  • The scanner’s long range, which allows for high quality scene documentation while maintaining considerable standoff distance from contaminated areas
  • The scanner’s ability to be operated remotely, which enables a CSI to control the scanner, view live video and document the scene from a safe area away from the threat of the contamination zone.

In his testimony before the House Committee on Homeland Security, Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis acknowledged that the DHS training provided to his department helped to save lives during the Boston Marathon bombings.
For more information on training opportunities, go to the Learn section of our website, or visit the NCBRT’s website at
Mike Cunningham of Leica GeosystemsAbout the author: After a 26 year career, Mike Cunningham retired from the New York City Police Department in 2012 as a Detective 1st Grade and the senior ranking Investigator in the Crime Scene Unit. In addition to his many years of CSI experience, he was a forensics instructor for the NYPD and is a Certified Instructor for Department of Homeland Security course “Advanced Forensics for Hazardous Environments” and “Integrated Response to WMD Incidents” As a contractor for the U.S. State Department, he served as an International Police Instructor for “Forensic Examination of Terrorist Crime Scenes” delivered to US anti-terrorism partner nations. Mike served his country with distinction and professionalism for ten months at Ground Zero in the aftermath of September 11th. He is an IAI Certified Crime Scene Investigator and a New York State Certified Police Instructor. 

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