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Grant buys tools to recreate crime and accident scenes
Written by Mark Lineberger   
Wednesday, 23 February 2011 00:03

Recording information at a crime scene has always been a science.

For the Camp Verde Marshal’s Office, now it’s a more exact science, thanks to a grant from the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety.

Camp Verde Marshal’s Office Lt. Earl Huff explains Thursday, Feb. 17, the features of the new Total Station survey equipment, which the department was able to purchase with a recently received $12,000 grant from the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety. Huff said he expects CVMO deputies to be trained on the crime scene equipment by mid-March.The town’s law enforcement agency just purchased a new piece of equipment that uses modern measurement and imaging technology to not only more accurately keep track of distances, but to create three-dimensional renderings of traffic accidents and other crime scenes.

The new machine is called a Total Station. Set on top of a sturdy tripod, this piece of equipment is practically identical to the tools used by modern land surveyors. It takes two people to operate, one to work the camera apparatus and another to set up a reflector of sorts on top of a pole.

Once the camera finds the target, it can provide an extremely accurate measure of distance.

“It’s a definite improvement over our old laser range finders,” CVMO Lt. Earl Huff said.

The new device makes it easier to measure distances over various types of terrain, Huff said, particularly the desert terrain in and around Camp Verde. The old equipment had some difficulties measuring distances when things like mesquite trees got in the way. To a large extent, the Total Station eliminates those problems.

Huff said the device could measure distances accurately up to a mile or more, as long as the camera’s laser can reach the prism on top of the staff unhindered.

“It can’t see through walls,” Huff said, “But it’s a lot more accurate.”

The new equipment has practical applications from recording traffic accident data to search and rescue.

Alone, the new tool is effective, but when the data it records is combined with CVMO’s new software, called ARAS 360, it can bring crime scenes and accidents to life.

The software takes the information about locations and distances and creates a 3-D rendering of an event or series of events, something Huff said could be extremely useful in the courtroom.

The software can recreate a traffic accident, Huff said, but it can also be used to simulate what happened if an assault or other crime took place over an area instead of just in one place.

“If there were a shooting or stabbing, where one thing happened at one point and then continued on, it could help the jury visualize what happened,” Huff said.

CVMO hopes to have deputies and other personnel trained on the equipment by mid-March, Huff said. A certain number of officers will likely receive training, both from the camera company and the software company, such as a team of specialized investigators who would be called out to use the equipment.

The cost of the equipment and software was covered by a $12,000 grant, according to the Camp Verde Marshal’s Office, initially awarded in December.

Law enforcement agencies across the state are given the opportunity to apply for grant funding from the Governor’s Highway Safety Office each year. Previous grants awarded to Camp Verde went toward the purchase breath testers, speed trailers and in-car cameras.


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