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July 2013 Advances & Applications

Where do the good ideas come from?
In this column, we offer our readers the opportunity to learn about—and benefit from—some of the cutting-edge technologies being implemented by law enforcement colleagues around the world.

CAD Zone, Inc., Introduces CZ Point Cloud Software to Capture Full Crime/Crash Scene Details

The CZ Point Cloud solution from CAD Zone, Inc. enables investigators to produce courtroom-ready 2D/3D diagrams and animations from the “point cloud” of data produced by a 3D laser scanner. This innovative software is valuable for mapping crime and crash scenes in their entirety when used with high-quality laser scanners such as those available from FARO or Leica.

A laser scanner can produce a complete 3D model of a crash or crime scene, showing every detail of a scene as it looked once an event occurred. The scanner measures millions of points, then produces a point cloud of X, Y, Z coordinate points as a data file. The point cloud represents the set of points that the scanner has recorded.

According to Bobby Jones, senior reconstructionist and owner of Bobby Jones Accident Reconstruction and Investigation Services, Inc., Knoxville, Tennessee, by applying scanner and point cloud technology, “We are capturing more evidence because scanners can take a snapshot of everything they see from one position.”

Likewise, Jones considers CZ Point Cloud the best software for producing drawings from a point cloud. Why? Because the software has many features that make it fast and easy to accurately identify the correct points and use them to create a diagram. “In CZ Point Cloud, the user can bring in a point cloud and create a map within minutes that normally may have taken hours in other applications,” Jones said.

Jones used a scanner and CZ Point Cloud to map a single-vehicle crash in which the driver was ejected due to a high rate of speed. The scanned scene showed not only the body’s trajectory through a series of trees, but plotted points in the trees where it travelled. “We didn’t realize the information was there, but the scanner saw it,” Jones said. The evidence was easily extracted from the scene using CZ Point Cloud.

The diagram plus the point cloud can be displayed simultaneously so investigators can work in either window. The investigator can move through the 3D environment viewing any portion of the cloud in either a fast display mode or in high definition.

Using a laser scanner at a crash or crime scene allows capture of the complete scene from various vantage points, whichmeans return visits are typically not required. The point cloud is also a completely accurate recording of the scene at the time of the incident. If a case is re-examined years later, the scanned scene and all of the evidence points can still be accessed and used just as on the day the measurements were taken.

Finally, CZ Point Cloud is a powerful tool for courtroom presentations. It allows for the simple creation of 2D and 3D diagrams as well as a complete animated fly-through of a scene. This allows jurors to visit the scene and view evidence from virtually any angle, showing witness point of views, bullet trajectories, and other critical evidence.

For more information, visit

RFID Improves Security and Saves Time for the Richardson PD

Before an officer of the Richardson, Texas, Police Department goes on patrol, he or she is responsible for verifying that everything that belongs in the squad car is there. Officers spent up to 15 minutes each shift recording the serial number from every radio, shotgun, citation printer, and other piece of equipment in the vehicle. Time that used to be spent looking for assets and recording serial numbers can now be spent on patrol. RFID’s system completes the pre-shift inventory process in seconds.

“In less than a minute the officer is ready to roll,” says Richardson Police Chief Jimmy Spivey. “You multiply 15 minutes a day saved by all the officers every day of the week, and the system is a massive time saver.”

A secure Xerafy RFID tag has been permanently affixed to each in-vehicle asset. The officer coming on shift uses a handheld computer with integrated RFID reader to do a quick sweep of the vehicle. Using a software application developed by GlobeRanger, the reader automatically identifies all the assets in the vehicle and records their serial numbers plus a time and date stamp of the transaction. The transaction updates the chain-of-custody
record in real time so the department always has a record of which officer last had every specific piece of equipment. More important, the application issues an alert if any assets that are supposed to be in the vehicle are missing, so they can be located or replaced prior to the officer going on patrol.

There are typically between 10 and 16 patrol officers deployed on each of the three daily shifts of the Richardson Police Department. By saving approximately 15 minutes per shift per day, the Richardson Police Department is saving 7.5 to 12 hours a day – about the equivalent of a patrol shift. ♦

For more information, visit



From The Police Chief, vol. 80, no. 7, July 2013. Copyright held by the International Association of Chiefs of Police, 515 North Washington Street, Alexandria, VA 22314 USA.

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