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New device renders crime scenes in 3-D ; Federal funds used for purchase

Law enforcement investigators in Erie County now have a new tool in their crime-fighting arsenal.

The Leica Scan Station takes exact measurements of crime scenes to create three-dimensional images that provide police with the opportunity to later view the setting from a birds-eye, virtual view.

Erie County Executive Chris Collins, Central Police Services Commissioner Peter Vito and Public Safety Lab Director Dr. John Simich demonstrated the new high-tech tool Thursday.

Originally designed for surveying, the scanner takes 260 images of a room and records measurements of more than one million points within it. The device also can catalog entire buildings and outdoor crime scenes.

"This technology is the way of the future in law enforcement," Vito said.

"It gives us a window back into a crime scene long after everything has been cleaned up. I think it will be a very useful tool in court cases involving major crimes."

Detectives in Amherst, Cheektowaga and Tonawanda already have been trained in how to use the device.

"Public safety is a top priority of my administration and this new tool will be very helpful to law enforcement agencies throughout the county," Collins said. "The technology is very impressive and will help us better prepare for any emergencies or natural disasters that may occur in the future."

Central Police Services is the first law enforcement agency in the area to purchase the Leica Scan Station, which cost $175,000 and was paid for with Homeland Security funds.

e-mail: lmichel@buffnews.com

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