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Calgary police shopping for 3D crime scene scanners

Members of the Calgary Police Service may soon be able to return to the scene of the crime – any crime – as often as they want thanks to 3D scanning technology.

The service is currently shopping for scanning technology which would help them gather a three dimensional, interactive scan of a crime scene.

“It will potentially give people the ability to see what we see when we walk into a crime scene,” said Staff Sgt. Keith Hurley, who is with the Forensic Crime Scene unit.

He said anyone who has browsed a real estate website recently is probably familiar with the type of technology they’re shopping for.

“If you look up a certain house for sale, sometimes a realtor has used it to help better represent the house,” he said. “They scan the room and it’s basically like a video, but the video scans all the way around and up and down.”

The CPS’s request for proposals has the device looking for one or two portable scanners “to capture evidence and crime scene images.”

It notes that the data needs to be of sufficient quality to be submitted as evidence in court proceedings.

Hurley said aside from providing images, the technology they’re shopping for should also be able to provide measurements.

“We do everything by hand measurements right now, and it’s very time consuming,” he said. “We’re just looking at ways to be more efficient but also give a better representation of that crime scene.”

Another feature they’re asking for is the ability to augment scans with data.

“For example, if you had a gun down there, you could potentially click on the gun and it would bring up what kind of gun it was – what calibre – and maybe you could attach the ballistics report to it.”

He said the idea to purchase 3D scanners follows CPS’s business plan, which calls for leveraging of technology.

Hurley said many people don’t realize the sheer amount of time and effort that goes into accurately documenting a crime scene. He gave the example of a double shooting that happened in Calgary’s northeast earlier this week.

“The scene is cleaned up, the cars are gone, and everyone thinks we’re done, but there’s a lot of background work that goes on. If we could find a way to reduce the amount of time we spend on something, and technology helps us, then I’m open to that idea – always.”

Hurley envisions being able to walk a judge and jury around a crime scene so they get more context of where evidence was found.

“A video doesn’t really give you that feeling like you’re in it, but a 3D scanner allows you to feel as if you’re standing in the crime scene without actually being in the crime scene,” said Hurley.