The Waukegan Police Department is one of only three law enforcement agencies that have a three-dimensional forensic scanner that can virtually re-create crime scenes or crashes, authorities said.

The Faro Focus 3-D scanner attaches to a tripod and rotates 360 degrees, painting the room with infrared light, said David Dustin of the Georgia-based Dustin Forensics, who trained Waukegan police personnel how to use it.

The accompanying software will then connect a series of video-type scans to create a virtually realistic model of a scene within 2 millimeters accuracy, he said.

"The selling point for us (is) it's a time-saving factor," said Waukegan police Lt. Edward Fitzgerald. "For us, it saves on overtime."

Using the scanner is simple because it easily attaches to a tripod in a just a few moments, Dustin said. Previously, Waukegan police used either hand-held measuring tapes or a Leica Total Station laser measuring device, which first had to be balanced on the tripod to use.

"That thing was a nightmare to set up," said Fitzgerald, who is the commander of both the department's traffic division and major crime scene unit.

The Leica also gathered 50 to 300 points of measurement, whereas the new Faro scanner gathers millions of measurements. Each scan takes six to eight minutes, Dustin said.

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Source: Chicago Tribune