Transitioning to 3D workflows? Here’s how Spokane Police Department made it fast and simple

When Investigators Brian Shrier and Paul Taylor, of the Spokane Police Department’s Major Crimes Unit, were searching for a laser scanner to replace the unit’s total station, they not only wanted to find the right technology but also get the expert training and customer support they knew would be key to their success. “We started looking at the pros and cons of each unit through different manufacturers,” Shrier says. Leica Geosystems’ Public Safety Group put them in contact with Collision Forensic Solutions, a Nebraska-based crash and crime reconstruction services firm that also provides consultations, equipment and training in forensic mapping technology.

Shrier and Taylor had already seen a demonstration from another manufacturer during which the sales rep failed to successfully scan their conference room. “I wasn’t too impressed with the presentation that manufacturer put forth,” Shrier says. So when Collision Forensic Solutions flew William Henningsen to Spokane to demo the high-performance Leica ScanStation P30, Shrier and Taylor were ready to put the scanner—and Henningsen—to the test on a real-to-life scene.

“We met with Will at approximately 11 o’clock at night after he got off the plane from the Midwest with his equipment and said, ‘Congratulations, we have a scene that we’ve mocked up, and we’d like you to scan it,’” Shrier says. The scene contained a “smorgasbord” of roadway markings and evidence representative of a fatal crash/officer-involved-shooting scenario. Henningsen scanned the scene immediately and presented the results to command staff the next day.

Henningsen scanned the mocked-up scene and presented the results to command staff the next day

A new option leads to a change of plans

As the Major Crimes Unit waited on funding for the Leica ScanStation P30, the groundbreaking Leica RTC360 reality capture solution was introduced. The compact, lightweight and scientifically accurate RTC360 laser scanner captures 2 million points per second, completes scans in less than two minutes, and automatically registers the captured point cloud data in real-time. Henningsen suggested a change of plan. “By this time, we’d had a long relationship with Will and trusted his judgment. He took the time to listen to us and knew our needs and the constraints and environments that we work in,” Shrier says. “And it was his opinion that the RTC360 would fit our needs well.”

Expert training backed by ongoing support

From left: Paul Taylor, William Henningsen, Brian Shrier

Shrier admits he was a little apprehensive to begin training on their new RTC360. The state-of-the-art technology was very different from the total station they’d been mapping with for several years. But Henningsen had Shrier and Taylor scanning with confidence within a week.

Collision Forensic Solutions is not only staffed with seasoned crime- and crash-scene professionals but also provides training specifically designed to instill competence and confidence in its public safety clients. Henningsen, for example, is a 21-year veteran of the Omaha Police Department’s Forensic Investigations Section and has more than 18 years of forensic-mapping experience. “William is a wealth of knowledge,” Taylor says. Shrier agrees. “He’s provided us with a product and training that we’ve found invaluable,” he says. “Will is not just a tech or a salesman now; he’s a friend.”

Shrier and Taylor appreciate Collision Forensic Solutions’ dedication to their clients’ long-term success. If they ever need assistance, Henningsen is just a phone call away thanks to the company’s permanent 24/7 customer support. “We’ve never gotten jammed up,” Taylor says, “No matter how complicated the scene, I’ve always felt confident we would accurately capture it.” Whenever they have questions about their RTC360 or software, the answer is just a phone call away. If Henningsen can’t pick up immediately, he always returns their calls within minutes. “The customer service that Collision Forensic Solutions has put forward has been invaluable,” Shrier says. “Just the psychological aspect of knowing support is available if a problem or question arises while we’re on scene makes it feel like we’re working with a safety net.”

A job well done

Shrier and Taylor didn’t have to wait long to put the RTC360 and their training to the test. “Straight out of the chute, we got a fairly complicated homicide scene,” Taylor says. It was a large house, but they completed the scene with minimal stress. Henningsen even took the time to remotely log onto their computer, check the scan data, and compliment them on a job well done. “Brian and I had confidence that we had what we needed when we left the scene,” Taylor says, “and we were able to put out a product that worked well for the detectives.”

RELATED> Spokane PD Uses High-Speed Laser Scanning to Make Easy Work of a Daunting Seven-Acre Scene

For many agencies transitioning from 2D to 3D workflows, the process of uniting, or registering, the individual scans with post-processing software has been a hurdle in the past due to the time and complexities involved. But with the RTC360’s automatic self-registration in the field, the majority of the work has already been done. Shrier returned to the office around 4 p.m., uploaded the data into Cyclone REGISTER 360 and had a registered product before he went home for the evening. “And I didn’t have to put in much overtime,” he says. “The next morning, I cleaned the scan up, and before I left that afternoon, I had deliverables on the desks of the detectives who were assigned to the case.”

A winning combination

Today, with an average of two crime- or crash-scene deployments per week, Shrier and Taylor have become quite adept with their RTC360. But they’re always quick to credit William Henningsen and Collision Forensic Solutions for steering them toward the right technology and providing the training and ongoing support that has been key to their success. “A lot of times, you get a song and dance from a salesman or a distributor that they’re going to be there after the sale, and six months down the road when you call and tell them your name, they don’t even remember who you are,” Shrier says. “That is not the case with Collision Forensic Solutions. Their customer service, their professional expertise, and the background of their trainers is second to none.”

For the Spokane Police Department’s Major Crime Unit, as well as other agencies seeking a quick and easy transition to a 3D workflow, extraordinary technology and exceptional customer service has proven to be a winning combination.

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