February 12, 2016

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Crime scenes go digital

Published 10:23 am Thursday, January 31, 2013

Drawing a crime scene or traffic accident by hand is a thing of the past for Frankfort Police and the Franklin County Sheriffs Office.

With the help of grant money, the sheriffs office purchased a total reconstruction station for about $15,000 that the two agencies will share to help officers depict crime scenes.

Its the first time either agency has been able to utilize such technology.

The sheriffs office purchased the equipment and software from Visual Statement, a company that creates incident reporting products for law enforcement agencies. Frankfort Police purchased its own copy of the software.

One reconstructionist and one detective from the sheriffs office, and four reconstructionists and four detectives from Frankfort Police are training with the software this week.

After the 40-hour training is complete, detectives and reconstructionists will be able to quickly take measurements of an area, upload the information to computer software and draw in other aspects, such as where vehicles collided or where a person was shot.

Police Chief Walter Wilhoite said the technology would help open roads quicker after accidents and provide better presentations in court.

It makes it clearer for people who have to review this information, Wilhoite said. The better notes and diagrams and descriptions they have, the better they can represent to the jury what happened.

In the past, detectives and reconstructionists did everything by hand, he said. The department had some computer programs, but nothing this sophisticated.

The officers that Ive talked to are pretty excited about it, Wilhoite said. Theyre excited about the capabilities that the software offers, which is far more than what we can do right now.

Sheriff Pat Melton said the software is going to greatly enhance his offices investigations.

We can go back in and do it to scale, Melton said. So the overall quality of work is going to be excellent.

He said his detective and reconstructionist will use it with any traffic accidents or crime scenes that are fatal or have life-threatening injuries.

Its hard enough losing a loved one in a crash, but this will help us get more information, a better end product and better investigation because of the tools we have now, Melton said.

Melton and Wilhoite said the agencies would collaborate in situations when the software is being used. The responding agency will serve as the primary investigators, and the other will provide assistance and support.

Wilhoite said this makes the program worth having because both agencies will stay up-to-date on using it.

The more opportunities they have, the fresher their skills will be, Wilhoite said. This is an excellent demonstration on how two agencies can put their heads together and find the best way to use taxpayer money.

Melton said four or five reconstructionists can do a better job than one.

I think anything that we can collaborate or work together on with the city or the state police, the better off were going to be, he said.