NIAGARA FALLS, NY - When Niagara Falls Police roll out to start a crime scene investigation, they may be packing a new tool with them.
The department has a new 3D laser scanner, which may have a real impact on a trial jury in the courtroom.
"The ability for us to accurately depict a crime scene or an accident scene to a jury. You see nowadays, they call it the 'CSI effect', where the jury expects more from a police department and we're finally at that stage where technology is really catching up," Lt. Michael Drake said.
The scanner takes precise measurements in a 360 degree scan and fully captures the layout and setting of a crime to create a 3D image that can be played back for the jury. It also takes digital color photos.
"We can hyperlink our crime scene photos. These are actually taken off a digital camera and we've incorporated those photos into our three dimensional diagram," Drake said.
This laser device can also help trace evidence elements like the actual trajectory of a bullet to determine the location of a shooter.
It's another part of the arsenal of forensic evidence technology that various departments are using now. But they carry a cost, like the more than $50,000 price tag for the 3D scanner.
"If you look at the high costs for purchase it's offset by how much time is actually spent out in the field if we were to have to do this ourselves. We're talking about multiple men taking hours to measure and document a scene which this thing can do in perhaps an hour's time," Drake said.
Lt. Drake says the Erie County and Niagara County Sheriff's Offices have also purchased this 3-D laser scanner for use in crime scene work.