Investigators use 3D technology to solve crimes, bring scenes to juries

(Photo: WKRN)
(Photo: WKRN)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – When crimes are committed and lives are lost, one of the most important jobs for police is preserving evidence.

That’s where crime investigators come in.

“Our main purpose is to investigate crimes and to document any evidence that we find at crime scenes,” said Lt. Frank Ragains.

Ragains heads the Metro Nashville Police Department’s Crime Scene Investigation office.

(Photo: WKRN)
(Photo: WKRN)

He told News 2 the expectations have never been higher. Thanks to the so-called “CSI effect” in the wake of popular forensic TV dramas, the bar has been raised.

“In the courtroom, the juries now demand more of that scientific evidence. And if we don’t have it, it’s a lot of times harder to prosecute a case,” Lt. Ragains explained.

So crime scene investigators are using cutting-edge technology to collect evidence, including the FARO 3D scanner.

The scanner uses lasers to map out a crime scene and offer a full, three-dimensional view. It also offers 360-degree views.

(Photo: WKRN)
(Photo: WKRN)

“You can literally travel through a crime scene this way,” Lt. Ragains said.

Investigators can also insert standard crime scene photos into the 3D environment.

It’s helpful for both detectives and prosecutors who can give jurors a look at a crime scene months or even years after the crime was committed.

“What it really does, or what it ultimately does, it allows us to bring a crime scene to a judge or a jury. It allows us to walk a jury member actually through a crime scene,” Ragains noted.

Top-of-the-line technology comes at a cost, though. Each FARO scanner costs about $75,000. Metro-Nashville police have three.

Crime scene investigators News 2 spoke all say it’s worth the cost.

News 2 is committed to tracking crime across Middle Tennessee. Visit wkrn.com/crimetracker for the latest in your area. Don’t miss the News 2 CrimeTracker Most Wanted Marathon beginning Thursday at 4 a.m.