Press-Republican

August 11, 2012

City Police adds laser scanner to arsenal

By MIRANDA ORSO, Press-Republican
Press-Republican

---- — PLATTSBURGH — Thanks to drug dealers, the City Police Department is now equipped with a three-dimensional laser scanner, allowing access to new, cutting-edge crime-scene reconstruction technology.

“This is the future of what you will see at crime scenes,” Plattsburgh City Police Chief Desmond Racicot said. “It will be used to limit the amount of overtime, provide better evidence for prosecutors and, the best part is, it was all made possible with drug dealer’s money.”

Drug-asset forfeiture funds paid the $43,700 price tag of the high-tech, FARO Focus 3-D laser scanner.

The new equipment was put to work after a hit-and-run accident on July 26, when the two-vehicle crash left car parts littered over the roadway. It helped officers re-create the scene on Margaret Street with pinpoint accuracy, Lt. Pat Rascoe said.

“There’s nothing better,” he added.

The scanner, which sits atop a tripod and rotates 360 degrees, captures every detail in its path while virtually capturing accident evidence with 3-D animation and high-definition photograph scans from the various vantage points.

“It creates an absolute reconstruction of a crime scene exactly as we found it,” Rascoe said.

3-D LOOK

Instead of taking measurements manually, a painstaking process, officers positioned the camera at different locations on Margaret Street and let it collect all the needed data with ease.

“In the past, accident reconstruction experts had to do all the measurements and calculations.” Rascoe said. “They would probably come up with 50 to 100 points of measurements.”

But the scanner’s extraordinary capabilities provide police a more in-depth look than the two-dimensional measuring tools and sketches most departments use at present.

“The technology is out there,” Racicot added.

MUCH FASTER

Members of both reconstruction units were recently trained on how to use the new equipment, and it could not have come at a better time.

“In the past year, we have had several serious accidents. These require a lot of manpower and ultimately, a lot of overtime,” the chief said.

Reconstructing accidents can take several hours, requiring road closures and other precautions.

But police can now collect extremely valuable evidence in mere minutes, Racicot said.

“You routinely have streets closed for three to five hours at a time, but with this new system it takes about 20 minutes to do the entire scene when normally this takes hours and hours,” he added.

Both Racicot and Rascoe said they are excited about the upgrade.

“It allows a smaller police department to have cutting edge big-city technology,” Rascoe added.

Email Miranda Orso: morso@pressrepublican.com