Laser Scanning Champions Included in First Ever National Commission on Forensic Science

By Michael Cunningham, Jan. 30, 2014
In a January 10 press release, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) announced appointments to the newly created National Commission on Forensic Science. With the knowledge that the commission’s work is likely to have an impact on how crime scene investigations are carried out, Leica Geosystems’ Public Safety Group has been following these developments closely.
laser scan of crash scene.jpgThirty commissioners were appointed to the panel from a list of over 300 applicants. The commission includes federal, state and local forensic science service providers; research scientists and academics; law enforcement officials; prosecutors, defense attorneys; and judges. In short, the list reads like a Who’s Who of forensic science.
The commission will meet in Washington during the first week of February to begin its work to improve the practice of forensic science by developing guidance concerning the intersections between forensic science and the criminal justice system. The commission also will work to develop policy recommendations for the U.S. Attorney General, including uniform codes for professional responsibility and requirements for formal training and certification.
Among the members of this prestigious and important commission are representatives from several agencies that have been on the leading edge of technology adoption in the investigation of crime and crash scenes, particularly with regard to 3D laser scanning and other advanced geospatial measurement solutions.
For example, Dean Gialamas is crime laboratory director of the Scientific Services Bureau within the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, an agency that has been using 3D laser scanning since 2008 to quickly and accurately capture, document and record crime and crash scenes.
Cecelia Crouse, PhD, leads the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Crime Laboratory, another agency that has successfully implemented laser scanning technology to streamline the documentation of crime and crash scenes and create compelling 3D visualizations that make it easier for juries to understand what really happened on the scene.
Yet another appointed commissioner is NYPD Chief of Detectives Phil Pulaski. I had the privilege of working closely with Chief Pulaski during my tenure at the NYPD Forensic Investigation Division. Chief Pulaski is an innovative leader in the forensic field and has successfully overseen one of the nation’s busiest crime labs and CSI units for many years. He holds degrees in engineering as well as law, and his knowledge will be an incredible asset to the commission’s work. He has firsthand experience with the processes involved in crime scene investigation, and he embraces technology when it presents valid solutions to issues in the field.
In the press release, NIST Director and Commission Chairman Patrick D. Gallagher said: “This new commission represents an extremely broad range of expertise and skills. It will help ensure that forensic science is supported by the strongest possible science-based evidence gathering, analysis and measurement.” Leica Geosystems will continue to support these goals by providing industry leading equipment accompanied by quality service and proficiency based certification training.
To learn more about laser scanning and geospatial measurement solutions for public safety, explore our website or contact us.
Image: Screen capture from an animation developed by the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office using the Leica ScanStation PS10 and MapScenes software
Tweet: First-ever nat’l commission on #forensicscience includes #laserscanning champions #crimelab
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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