Crime Scene Documentation : Preserving the Evidence and the Growing Role of 3D Laser Scanning book cover
1st Edition

Crime Scene Documentation
Preserving the Evidence and the Growing Role of 3D Laser Scanning

ISBN 9780367652302
Published December 11, 2020 by CRC Press
290 Pages

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Book Description

When a criminal act or vehicle crash occurs, most often a local law enforcement agency responds and is responsible for both investigating the scene and for documenting it. It is critical that scene evidence is collected and recorded efficiently, as the scene can quickly change. The sooner evidence can be collected, reviewed, and analyzed, the better an understanding investigators will have as to how and why the incident occurred.

Crime Scene Documentation: Preserving the evidence and the growing role of 3D laser scanning demonstrates at length the value of laser scanning through the use of numerous case studies of investigators who have utilized various 3D technologies and laser scanning to document scenes. Thorough and accurate scene documentation is an essential function at a science and proves particularly valuable in courtroom presentations to help jurors understand a crime or accident’s likely chain of events. The more advanced a scene documentation method is, the better it can be utilized to capture details that will lead to optimal scene diagramming.

Currently, 3D laser scanning is the most advanced method of scene documentation available, capturing detailed and realistic digital scans—capturing scenes in their entirety—and yielding a permanent representation of the scene for study and analysis at any time, even years after a crime scene has vanished. The book explains current technology, the latest advances, and how to best utilize the technology. Case examples come from various applications, from tools to programs, can help crash scene investigators understand how scanning can improve scene documentation, provide better and more evidence details, and build more credible diagrams that possibly may be used in court presentations to help support a case.

Key Features:

  • Describes 3Dscene recording methods in use and how well they work
  • Outlines the variables and inherent challenges associated with documenting crime and crash scenes
  • Illustrates the positive, and dramatic, impact of having a well-documented scene, particularly in the courtroom

  • Explores how 3D laser scanning has vastly changed the way and extent to which crime and crash scenes can be captured accurately and completely, and subsequently analyzed
  • Explains how laser scanning is highly flexible and presents strategies to integrate it into other crime scene incident recording techniques and technologies


Crime Scene Documentation details the many benefits of 3D laser scanning technology relative to its reliability and accuracy as well as the multiple case scenarios in which it can be used. The book serves as an invaluable resource to crime scene technicians, investigators, and reconstructionists on the best ways to document a crime or crash scene.

Table of Contents

PART I Introduction: The Importance of

Crime Scene Documentation and

the Drive to 3D Scene Visualization

Chapter 1 A Brief History of Forensic Science: How Archimedes and

Ja c k t he Rippe r Shaped Modern Forensics

Chapter 2 Crime Scene Documentation has

Challenges, But Technology Tools are

Meeting Them

Chapter 3 Preparing for Crime Scene Documentation

Chapter 4 The To ta l Stat i on: Still a Stalwart Documentation Tool

Chapter 5 The Value of Photogrammetry Takes on

New Importance as Tool for 3D Crime

Scene Capture

PART II Getting the Most Out of

3D Laser Scanning: A Look

at Some Unique Applications

Chapter 6 How 3D Laser Scanning Systems are

Changing Crime Scene Documentation

Chapter 7 Setting Up The Scanner, Working With

Point Clouds, and Building 2D/3D Models

Chapter 8 The Essentials of Getting Trained on the

Use of a Laser Scanner

Chapter 9 Bringing Crime Scene Reconstructions

into Court

Chapter 10 360° Imaging Systems as a Way to

Document Crime Scenes

Chapter 11 Rugged Tablets: A Newer Way to

Capture Scenes; An Alternative to 3D

Laser Scanning

Chapter 12 How Drones Give Scene Reconstruction

New Perspectives, Crucial

Interrelationships of Evidence

Chapter 13 Laser Scanning a Strong Fit for

Reconstructing Active Incident Scenes;

Useful for Autopsies, Powerful Training


Chapter 14 Risk Assessment, Security Planning

Critical for Future Active Incidents;

How Technology can AID

Chapter 15 Scene Perspectives at the Core of

Reconstructing Officer-Involved

Shootings; Video Evidence a Big Factor

Chapter 16 Scanning for Bloodstain Pattern

Analysis Helps Identify Vital Clues at

Crime Scenes

Chapter 17 Vehicle Collision Damage "Autopsies"

Yield Crucial Details with 3D Laser


Chapter 18 Scanning for Height Approximation

Proves Invaluable in Helping to Target

Prime Suspects

Chapter 19 Integrating Technology Tools

Help Solve Crime /Crash Scene

Reconstruction Challenges, Clarify

Probable Events

View More



Robert Galvin has 43 years of experience in public relations, newspaper reporting and writing, and trade press writing. During the last 15 years, Mr. Galvin has concentrated on the law enforcement, public safety and forensic science sectors for writing and publication of trade press articles tied to crime scene investigations and scene documentation. Since 2007, he has focused his writing specifically on articles about crime and vehicle crash scene documentation, methodology and particularly the technology advancements that have occurred. Mr. Galvin has worked with vendors offering software and technology products that enable law enforcement agencies and crash/crime scene reconstructionists to record evidence, data, and contents at vehicle crash scenes and crime scenes. These vendors offer specific solutions, including: total station (an electronic instrument that measures sloping distance of object to instrument, horizontal and vertical angles—originally for land surveying, but now used for measuring vehicle crash and crime scenes), 2D/3D diagramming software, and 3D laser scanners. In addition to working with several companies as a public relations specialist and manager, Mr. Galvin built and managed his own public relations/writing services consulting firm which was operated from 1989 to 2018. In those years during which his articles about crash and crime scene documentation were published, Mr. Galvin interviewed a multitude of law enforcement, public safety, forensic and crime investigation professionals, including: crime scene investigators, crime detectives, snipers, S.W.A.T. Operators, criminalists, arson investigators, police chiefs, sheriff's deputies who investigate crime scenes, vehicle crash and crime scene reconstructionists, and forensic experts.


"Overall, this book explains the emerging technology of 3D laser scanning as a critical tool for scene documentation … (it) serves as an invaluable resource for CSIs interested in new technologies to document a scene, to map evidence, and to reconstruct scenes." —Forensic Science Review, Vol. 34:1, January 2022