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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

New forensic technology facilitates crime scene investigation

Institute of Forensic Sciences Executive Director María Conte Miller

By John McPhaul

New equipment purchased by the Institute of Forensic Sciences (ICF by its Spanish initials) will allow investigators to capture more precise data and measurements at crime scenes, which, in turn, will make it easier and faster to document homicides, ICF Executive Director Dr. María Conte Miller announced Wednesday.

The island’s top forensic pathologist said the new technology, identified as FARO, will capture exact images, in 3D format and at 360 degrees at the scenes, so that while the investigators carry out the initial analysis, the team will work only on taking the panoramic photographs and the measurements in the place where the homicide was reported.

“This new technology will simplify the work of researchers because now they will not have to take measurements and they will obtain data and photographs more quickly and easily,” Conte Miller said. “This tool is a high-speed 3D scanner that collects measurements and detailed documentation of spaces, in this case, the crime scene. It works like a digital camera; it takes and saves the three-dimensional photographs of reality and then the investigator transfers them to a computer to continue the development of the documentation of the scene. It also has a portable scanner for scene reconstruction, shot trajectory analysis and blood patterns. This instrument will make the acquisition of data through 3D scanning faster and more illustrative than conventional documentation methods, in addition to avoiding the exhaustion of technical personnel.”

FARO has a tripod, and the camera has sensors, a global positioning system, or GPS, a compass and an inclinometer. The instrument is used to measure distance and, along with the rotation data, determine the coordinates in space; the result is the complete three-dimensional impression of the user’s surroundings.

“When the investigative process moves to court, it will also be easier because the jurors will see the scene as if they were there; the system will transport them to the crime scene,” Conte Miller added. “They are reliable, transparent and accessible data.”

The ICF purchased two instruments, which can be used simultaneously in two different scenes, either indoors or outdoors. The equipment has already been in use for more than a month, the ICF chief said.

The investment for the acquisition of this technological resource was $211,000, which included the equipment, its operating system and the training of forensic investigators. The central government has invested some $7 million to purchase equipment and new technology to modernize and achieve more efficient operations at the ICF.

“With these instruments, we are taking the Institute of Forensic Sciences into the 21st century,” Conte Miller said. “Just as we did with the tools that speed up autopsies, the analysis of genetic material evidence in sexual assault cases, and now this, we will continue to promote technology at the service of forensic investigation.”

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