Roanoke Police obtain new crime solving camera
By John Carlin
WSLS10 Anchor
Published: September 10, 2008

In the old days police took simple photographs at crime scenes.

Soon they will have a new device that takes pictures to a level most people couldn’t imagine just a few years ago.

“It’s going to take our documentation of crime scenes in the area of photography up—by a thousand percent.”

Sgt. Dave Boyer speaks to us in the Roanoke Police forensics lab… He’s talking about the ”Panoscan”—a camera that shoots crime scenes in 360—or from every angle.

“When you go to a scene there is sometimes obvious, obvious pieces of evidence there that look like what you’ve seen before. What happens in the future, maybe you are speaking to a suspect or a witness who says there was something else that was in the room that at the time you didn’t realize was a piece of evidence, that you may have left,” said Boyer.

360-degree technology has been around for a while, what’s different here is the detail.

Let’s take a good look at how much detail we are talking about. A cell phone camera has typically one mega pixel. The camera you use for you child’s birthday party, 6, 7, maybe 8 mega pixels. This police camera—600 mega pixels.

Boyer says you never know what could be missed at a murder or accident scene. “It could be anything. A prescription pill bottle that may have been there. Had a different name on it, that it wasn’t the subject. That was in the room, and you would be able to read it using this device.”

The tool will also allow police to take measurements after the fact, and to map a room or building. It will also be helpful once the case gets to trial.

“For courtroom presentation, doing virtual tours, so the jury can actually see and be a part of and interact in the room at the scene. It’s just a mouse click away,” Boyer said.

The 50,000 camera will arrive by the end of the month. Police say training time is short, and they’ll be using it at crime scenes almost immediately.