Plattsburgh police needed fewer officers to investigate a deadly train accident involving a pedestrian last week.
"We usually would have had three, possibly four people. We did this with two," Plattsburgh Police Ofc. Chris Maggy said.
That's because the department used its new "FARO Focus3D" laser scanner. The device creates a virtual high-definition replica of a crash or crime scene.
"It assisted us in better documenting the scene than I have ever seen it done," Maggy said.
The FARO allows investigators to take a 3-D fly through of a scene in color.
"We have the capability to go back through, obviously you can see different items of evidence," Maggy said.
The FARO system takes just 15 minutes to set up, saving them critical minutes in an effort to preserve evidence. It used to take investigators closer to 45 minutes with their old measuring tools. The first step is to install several white spheres, which eliminate the need for tape measures.
"After we shoot the scene we can go back through and basically, off of these spheres, take measurements from different points," Maggy said.
Once the spheres are set up, the laser scanner is sent into action. It rotates 360 degrees, scanning everything it can see. Each scan takes about 15 minutes.
"The time it takes to process a scene has been cut in half," Maggy said.
The images are stored to a small chip, which is then plugged into a computer for viewing. With the old documenting tools, putting colored images together took up to 10 hours. Now, investigators have them in a matter of minutes. And with the help of the spheres, Plattsburgh police say the measurements are actually more accurate.
"I can take a measurement from any point to any point, right here. Right here what it is giving is a dimension, horizontal, distance and vertical measurements," Maggy explained.
New advances in technology helping the Plattsburgh Police Department investigate and solve crashes and major crimes.
"It actually gives you the affect of being in the scene or seeing what the scene represented that day," Maggy said.
"The FARO Focus3D laser scanner was not cheap. It cost $43,000, but was paid for by money seized from drug dealers.
The Vermont State Police recently purchased a FARO unit to use with its mobile crime lab.