Meet The FARO, OSBI's Newest Crime-Fighting Tool

Friday, September 9th 2016, 3:54 pm
By: News 9

Meet The FARO -- the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation's newest crime fighting tool.

During a news conference Friday morning, the OSBI announced it purchased two scanning devices that will serve as tools for crime scene agents in the precise documentation of a crime scene.  The FARO Focus is a 3D, 360 degree scanning device that will dramatically improve the quality of scene documentation and provide more realistic imaging in a courtroom setting.

OSBI agents said one of the most time-consuming parts of a crime scene investigation is scene documentation.  The current workflow of OSBI crime scene agents is to measure crime scenes by hand or with Total Stations, which use a laser to measure distance and slope to identify points of interest.  Using the older system called the Total Station, points are determined by the agent and collected individually. A large scene documented with a Total Station will typically have no more than 200-300 documented points.  Additionally, the usage of a Total Station takes a significant amount of time to set up, level, and capture all of the deemed necessary points. 

As investigations progress, officials said new information is inevitably obtained, some of which makes items/areas not initially deemed important, to be critical.  Traditional scene documentation, or even that with a Total Station, does not allow for these new details to be captured.  Essentially, you have “one shot” to collect data with these methods.  For example, when documenting a murder scene, it may not initially be apparent that the relationship between two items is important.  As the investigation progresses or enters the prosecution phase, those questions often arise. Criminal investigations are fluid and the ability to capture scenes in their entirety will aid the ultimate mission of the OSBI, which is to fully and professionally investigate crimes, bring offenders to answer for their crimes, and ensure victims are given the justice they deserve.

The FARO Focus 3D Scanner is the most up-to-date method in crime scene data collection, officials said. The revolutionary device documents crime scenes by way of laser scanning and photography and has the capability to collect millions of data points in a matter of minutes.  The FARO captures said points, which can later be utilized to display and determine distances, etc. between any two points in the finished product.  The finished product can be disseminated to the district attorney for use in prosecutions, providing juries the opportunity to view a crime scene in a new way.  In the past, crime scene agents have provided photographs and, at times, video-taped crime scenes.  The FARO scanned scene can be utilized, along with photographs, to expand the jury’s understanding of what the scene “actually” looked like.  Essentially, the jury and attorneys will be able to walk through the crime scene and obtain viewpoints that may not be available through photographs alone.    

The OSBI recently purchased two of these devices and accessories for each.  One unit will be maintained in the eastern section of the state and the other one will be maintained in the western section.  

Before using the FARO scanners in the field, OSBI crime scene agents must obtain certification.   As of now, six crime scene agents, including the two supervisors, have been through the training and successfully completed the certification process to use the scanners.