Laser Scanning Welcomed by Manitoba RCMP and Crown

From Leica’s Ready Room: Are You Providing the Data the Court Needs to See? By Walter Bentley

Two years ago, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in Brandon, Manitoba, became the first law-enforcement agency in the province to adopt forensic laser scanning. “We initially bought a single Leica ScanStation to ensure that it would meet our needs and that the workflow wasn’t going to be overly cumbersome, especially the back end of the workflow at the office,” said Cpl. Byron Charbonneau, of the Forensic Collision Reconstruction unit. “We liked what we saw, so we purchased additional units for both the collision and forensic identification side of the business.”

Today, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police owns and operates eight Leica ScanStation PS20s in Manitoba. Charbonneau believes that the technology is “absolutely” worth the investment. “They are investigative tools,” he said. “And going forward, this is the type of data that we really need to acquire—and it’s the type of the data that the courts are going to want to see.”

Charbonneau has seen laser scanning technology enthusiastically welcomed by Crown prosecutors, who are reaping the benefits of more data and powerful 3D scene visualizations for court. The interactive Leica TruView freeware is an effective way to show the judge and jury what the scene looked like in 3D. Even nontechnical users can easily view, pan, zoom, measure, and mark up point cloud data via Internet Explorer (or any browser using TruView Global). TruView also features the ability to hotlink audio and visual files such as ballistic reports, witness testimony, etc. “The feedback I’ve gotten from Crown attorneys is that they love TruView because it’s an immersive experience,” Charbonneau said.

While immersive 3D visualizations are fascinating, the enthusiasm goes beyond the initial wow factor. The attorneys have the opportunity to see the crime or crash scene in a whole new way. “The prosecutors love it,” Charbonneau said. “I’ve also had the opportunity to show it to couple of defense lawyers. It’s a little different for them. One of them in particular said, ‘I love this technology. This is absolutely fascinating high-tech equipment that you’ve got, but, unfortunately, it may make my job a lot more difficult.’ But by the same token, they’ve got more data than they ever had before. They’ve got the ability to get onto a crime scene and see it in a virtual reality. They can rotate through the crime scene. They can look at evidence. They can take measurements. We’ve given them tools they’ve never had before.”

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