Crime scene investigators create 3D images to bring into Colorado courtrooms

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ARVADA – Thanks to a number of popular TV shows, there’s a misconception about what crime scene analysts really can do. But their jobs are getting easier thanks to improved technology. The Colorado Bureau of Investigation gave us an exclusive look at their tools that help them create a 3D crime scene.

For crime scene analysts, documenting every detail is important. CBI Crime Scene Analyst Erick Bryant said, “Crime scene investigation is a one-time thing. You have only one time to process the scene correctly. This allows us to gather a bunch of data from that crime scene and look at it, days, weeks, months, long after that scene has been long gone.”

FARO is a computer scanning system that produces 3D images of crime scenes. Bryant said, “It is an infrared laser scanner that measures literally everything it sees.” And just like Google Street View, you can move around to see different angles. “It allows you to bring the crime scene into the courtroom in a virtual environment and put a juror in that scene or put a prosecutor in the scene in a way you just can`t do with 2D imaging.”

CBI also uses a drone in conjunction with FARO to get a complete look at a crime scene. Dave Yocum said, “This has made things a million times easier. It cuts down on a lot of processing time from our scenes and we tend to get a whole lot more information.

CBI uses this technology about 140 times per year, assisting agencies around the state. They’ve helped in high profile cases like the 2013 shooting at Arapahoe High School and the 2016 Park County shooting where a deputy was killed.

Investigators believe it’s important to share this information with the public. CBI Deputy Director Jan Girten said, “We want to share our knowledge. It`s not what we really see on tv.. not really how we do things. We do it quick, but we don`t do it overnight. We want to make sure the public who becomes our jurors really understands our technology and could understand our explanations.”

It is National Forensic Sciences Week which was formed to recognize the work of forensic analysts as well as to educate potential jurors and lawmakers so they have a better understanding of the realities of crime scene investigations.


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