1st Edition

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

By Robert Galvin Copyright 2021

    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.

    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


    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