ELIZABETHTON, Tenn. (WJHL) — Training is finishing up for Elizabethton Police Department officers as they learn how to use a new 3D laser scanner that they believe will strengthen their evidence in investigations.
The Faro Focus Laser Scanner was obtained through the Rural Violent Crime Reduction Initiative grant, totaling almost $150,000 with the initiative of combatting violent crime.
The scanner takes a 360-degree pan of the scene and collects thousands of data points to create a fully measurable 3D picture. It has an accuracy of plus or minus a millimeter.
“[It] rotates around, picks up all of the details,” said Sgt. Mike Commons, who is being trained to use the scanner. “We just have to move it at various different points. As long as they overlap, we can get a 3-D picture seen of whatever it is we’re filming.”
3D printers can print images from the scanner and virtual reality goggles can be connected, allowing someone to walk through a scene. All points make the images strong evidence in the courtroom.
Commons said the scanner can be used to provide evidence for any investigation, not just homicides.
“One thing we’re running into right now is the remodeler’s law, where people are paying to have people come in and remodel the house and then people aren’t showing back up,” Commons said. “We can actually go in with this and shoot the detail at the house to show what’s been done, what hasn’t been done.”
He said the Faro Scanner will make evidence gathering and investigations more efficient and accurate.
“This has actually been standardized in federal and state court and in the scientific community,” Commons said. “Rather than us constantly running around with yardsticks and tape measures, we can do the measurements actually through the computer.”
The scanner is ready to be used after Friday’s training. The police department has officers in the accident reconstruction team and criminal investigations trained to use the scanner.