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The science of police crime scene reconstruction - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

The science of police crime scene reconstruction

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RAY BROOK, N.Y. -

Tires screech as a driver tries to avoid a collision. This simulated accident involves a police cruiser, so the New York State Police Collision Reconstruction Unit is called into action.

"Our main purpose is to identify, preserve, collect, physical evidence and documentation of the collision scene," N.Y. State Police Investigator Brendan Frost said.

The unit helps investigate serious accidents where criminal charges are likely-- usually deadly crashes-- and also cases when a police cruiser is involved. Of the 3,700 accidents troopers have responded to this year, the reconstruction team has investigated 39. Their key tool-- the Electronic Total Work Station which helps them diagram the scene.

"For every hour of work we do on the road you are talking six or eight minimum hours behind the computer diagramming," N.Y. State Police Investigator Michael Campbell said.

It took months to study the diagrams, but the mapping of the scene by the reconstruction unit was critical in solving a deadly hit and run on the Northway in Schroon. They were able to trace the evidence from the November crash to a car and the driver a couple hundred miles away.

"We look for tire marks, paint transfers between vehicles, in case of hit and runs we look for vehicle parts," Frost said.

The electronic work stations do not replace tape measures, but provide investigators with key images after scenes have been cleared.

"We can create a scene whether it is tomorrow or 10 years from now, and if we ever have to introduce evidence into court it is there to back up," N.Y. State Police Lt. Scott Heggelke said.

The reconstruction unit is also used for bigger cases, like murder investigations.

"The mapping is the all the same," Frost said. "The homicides scene may be several different locations."

"If you take the lines out, what you are left with are the points," Campbell said. "There are just thousands of points all over."

Each one of those points is where investigators took a picture as they mapped the property of Dale Jarvis. He was murdered and buried behind his home in Chateaguay.

"You can see where we plotted the excavation that we did," Campbell said. "With a scaled diagram finished and put on poster board, you'd be able to show a jury here's the house and this is exactly where we found the body."

A team of specialized investigators recreating crime scenes in an effort to obtain justice for victims.

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