HELENA – The Montana Department of Justice Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI) will soon begin using a new, state-of-the-art 3D laser scanner to assist in crime scene investigations and fight increased crime in our state, Attorney General Austin Knudsen announced today. The evidence collected by the scanner will also be a powerful tool for prosecutors during trial as they work to put criminals behind bars.

The Leica RTC360 scanner will improve measuring accuracy, save time, and allow investigators to recreate crime scenes three dimensionally using top-of-the-line software. The device enables investigators to capture and preserve crime scene evidence, making it available long after the scene has been cleared.

“This is another weapon in our arsenal to fight crime in Montana by finding criminals and – ultimately – putting them behind bars. As a former prosecutor, I know how important accurate scene reconstruction can be in court during a criminal case,” Attorney General Knudsen said. “I’m looking forward to our Division of Criminal Investigation putting the scanner to good use as we help law enforcement agencies around Montana keep their communities safe.” 

“Adding a resource like this in the field drastically reduces investigative time and increases accuracy in documenting crime scenes,” DCI Administrator Bryan Lockerby said.  “It is about being efficient and effective with the work we do in supporting local agencies by producing a professional work product to local prosecutors.”

Processing a crime scene is time consuming and labor intensive since every measurement and analysis currently must be done by hand, taking valuable time away from other important aspects of an investigation such as following leads and tracking down criminals. Now, work that used to take investigators hours or days to complete can be done in minutes.

Criminal investigators will simply set the scanner on its tripod to scan and photograph its environment then download the scans onto a computer to render the site reconstruction and allow the investigator to accurately measure and analyze the scene. The Visual Inertial System (VIS) technology in the device intuitively knows where it is at all times and can seamlessly put together each area of the scene and recreate the entire 3D environment.

DCI’s major case agents will be trained to use the scanner. DCI will also provide support to local law enforcement agencies who may need to utilize the technology.

Since the scanner will digitally preserve the crime scene and evidence, it will be an asset to prosecutors who can be in trial years after the crime was first investigated. It will also provide individuals in the courtroom with an accurate digital reconstruction of the crime scene environment during the prosecution.

Attorney General Knudsen is committed to cracking down on crime in Montana. Since 2013, the number of homicides, rapes, robberies, and violent assaults in Montana has increased 91 percent. Much of violent crime increase is due to the amount of methamphetamine and other dangerous drugs being trafficked into Montana from the nation’s southern border.

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