St. Lawrence County to get new software, scanner to recreate 3D models of crime scenes
BY JEFF CHUDZINSKI
North Country This Week
CANTON — The St. Lawrence County District Attorney’s Office and Sheriff’s Office will soon have new software that can be used to create 3D models of crime scenes while getting exact measurements of the locations.
County legislators recently approved a budget modification of $59,799 to purchase the FARO Zone equipment, which includes a laser scanner, laptop, the FARO Zone software and training for six people.“Basically we would bring it to crime scenes to map out the entire location. The first intended use, after discussing it with the sheriff, would be to take it to all of the local schools we have in the county, as well as the county buildings and to have a 3D model of each building,” District Attorney Gary Pasqua said.
According to Pasqua, scans take five to seven minutes each, depending on how much detail they want to obtain.
“We would do four scans per room, one from each corner of the room,” he said.
Pasqua said once each school and county building is fully mapped, the files would be distributed to all law enforcement agencies throughout the county.
In case of an incident, police agencies would be able to react more quickly and accurately with the help of the 3D modeling, he said.
All files would also be loaded on the computers in each vehicle, allowing for use on the fly for a fast response.
With the use of the mapping software, photos, videos and evidence exhibits would be captured and available for use in trials as well. According to Pasqua, the scanners can capture thousands of photos with each scan, allowing for accurate detailing of crime scenes and evidence.
According to Sheriff Brooks Bigwarfe, St. Lawrence County received its first hands-on experience with the system during the investigation of the murder of William M. Freeman in the Town of Rossie.
“I reached out to Jefferson County’s Sheriff to assist us in our investigation at the Rossie crime scene and they were kind enough to allow us to use that,” he said.
County officials are now just waiting on the files from the investigation.
Legislator Margaret Haggard raised the question about training just six staff members.
“I’m curious though, why it would go through your department and who would be trained in the use of this system. It seems that the Sheriff’s Office is primarily responsible for investigations like this,” she said.
According to Pasqua, the proposal to purchase the system is being done in conjunction with the Sheriff’s Office. One investigator from the DA’s Office will receive training, while five detectives with the Sheriff’s Office will receive training, he said.
Officials say the system will be county owned and will be stored at the Sheriff’s Office.
The initial expense will be covered by the county, with the yearly upkeep and upgrades covered by the DA’s Office and Sheriff’s Office. Yearly expenses will total around $9,000, being evenly split between the two departments.
Officials also say that local police agencies that need the system can work with either office to implement the system.
Crime scene investigations will also take less time, according to Bigwarfe.
In many cases, investigations to map the scene and detail evidence can take in excess of six to eight hours. However, with the use of the new system, that time frame can be as low as two hours.
Legislator Jim Reagan praised the purchase, saying it would make investigations more efficient and accurate while also allowing citizens to better understand what is being done and how investigations are conducted.
Legislator David Forsythe questioned whether state police would have access to the system or if they had a system of their own.
According to Bigwarfe, state police have a number of tools available but do not have a system like this.
“The interagency cooperation at the Rossie scene was some of the best I have ever seen,” Bigwarfe said.
He also took the time to credit state police with playing a key role in the investigation while sharing a number of resources to aid the investigation.
If state police requested to use the system during an investigation, Bigwarfe said his office would gladly assist.
“Troopers do have certain instruments, especially from accident reconstructions but nothing quite like this,” Pasqua said.
The budget modification now moves before the full board for final approval, which is expected in April.