Greensboro, NC -- You see it on TV: Investigators using futuristic technology to solve crimes, but in the Triad, it's the real deal.
The Forensics Institute at Guilford College has a piece of crime-fighting equipment called the Leica C10 3-D Laser Scanner. Essentially, it's a high-tech camera and laser scanner in one piece of equipment that can provide crucial information for investigators.
"It's an exceptionally powerful tool just by allowing us to capture the crime scene before anyone destroys it, or takes evidence out of it, and we can revisit that crime scene essentially forever," said Bryan Brendley, with the Forensic Institute at Guilford College.
Brendley said this is how the laser scanner works:
They set it up at a crime scene and tell it what area they want to scan, whether it's a few feet or even an entire house.
The scanner is controlled by a touch screen. But the operator can also download an app on their iPhone or Android device and control it that way as well.
The scanner takes measurements using the laser. It can take measurements down to 1/100 of an inch, so it would easily see a bullet hole or a cartridge casing.
The laser can also measure ballistics and see exactly where a bullet was fired and where it went.
While the laser is mapping out the scene, the camera is taking hundreds of high definition photographs. It has such a high resolution, they can actually lift finger prints from the scene.
Then, all of the data is merged in a software program, which lays the pictures over the maps and generates a 3-D model.
Brendley said whether a trial is months or even years after a crime, they can still transport a jury and investigators back into the crime scene as it happened, day or night.
"The prosecution's only going to get one chance to make their case. And it needs to be done as well as possible. You don't want the jury to get in there and say, 'well, what are these people really saying? Can we be sure this is how it went down?'" said Brendley.
The Forensics Institute at Guilford College is the first agency in North Carolina to have the scanner equipment. They're partnering with local law enforcement agencies and training them so they can use it in their investigations.
The Guilford County Sheriff's Office has already used the equipment to investigate a homicide.
According to Brendley, the technology has been around for more than a decade, but this scanner is the most recent version and it comes with a $200,00 price tag.
Brendley said it's comparable to what the FBI uses and what police are currently using to investigate the movie theater shooting in Aurora, CO.
WFMY News 2