Law Enforcement is responsible for investigating crimes, identifying and arresting the suspects, and presenting evidence to a judge and jury in court. In order to objectively perform these duties, police need to gather accurate information and clearly explain the crime scene and physical evidence in a court of law. Part of this information includes the documentation of the incident. Documenting an incident has always been divided into three categories: notes, sketch and photography. This method of recording an incident has been the standard for years. The major drawback to this is that the visual documents of sketches and photographs are two-dimensional. This greatly restricts the actual visualization of the incident requiring a careful cross referencing of the details in order to understand it.
We live in a three-dimensional world and the technology of creating images three dimensionally has been in existence and has been used since long before the turn of the century. Yet in law enforcement we often find ourselves trying to analyze it using two dimensional devices, photographs and sketches. By using various techniques we can make our eyes into believing that we are seeing three dimensions. Sometimes we can fool our eyes into performing comprehensive diagnostic analyses, making critical medical decisions, and formulating strategic military plans. We use this information to inform, educate and entertain.
Engineers, geographers, cartographers, doctors, and scientists all use three-dimensional information to make important decisions that affect our daily lives, yet law enforcement has yet to realize the full benefits of three-dimensional information.
The use of 3-D images, whether photographs or drawings does have an important role in visualizing the incident. Perspective in viewing has always been advantageous rather than detrimental to the viewer. Problems with 3-D photography in it's current form includes: the extra work required to properly view the images, the possibility that the person viewing the image has a visual defect which prevents them from seeing the image in 3-D, and the lack of modern equipment to properly capture and view the images.
In order for the public and law enforcement to accept these 3-D images,
the process must be fairly easy to produce and should not require a separate
viewing device. The future is nearer then most people think! 3-D television
is currently being tested in Australia and Japan. The use of 3-D images
in drawings are already here in the form of video animation.
"Although stereoscopic photographs are used as evidence, their admissibility has not been passed upon by an appellate court except in two early cases decided over eighty years ago. In an Illinois case it was held not error to admit in evidence stereoscopic views of a bridge and embankment where the plaintiff was injured when a horse pulling his sleigh became frightened and ran off the embankment leading to the bridge. The court allowed in evidence a stereoscope to aid the jury in examination of the views. (Ill. - City of Rockford Vs Russell, 9 ILL.App. 229 (1881)). In an Iowa case the trial court rejected stereoscopic views of the plaintiff's property taken the day after injuries were caused by a large flow of water. The Appellate court held that the stereographs ought to have been admitted because they were competent evidence to show the condition of the property after the alleged injuries. (Iowa - German Theological School Vs City of Dubuque, 17 NW 153, 64 Iowa 736 (1883))."
There is little difference in theory between present day stereo photography and that in use when stereo photographs were declared admissible in evidence in the 1880's. The only difference is that present day stereo photographs are more reliable and more realistic because of the employment of color photography, and therefore, since there was no question about the admissibility of the duly verified and relevant stereo photographs in the 1880's there certainly should be no question now.
In more recent times there was a newspaper report of stereo color slides being projected in a homicide trial in Chattanooga, Tennessee in 1950. In 1966 stereo color slides were admitted as evidence in a federal court at Wichita, Kansas in a suit charging three major oil companies with pollution of Walnut River. It is certain that stereo pictures have been used as evidence in other trial cases but it is difficult to obtain this information due to the lack of reference to stereo pictures in the appellate court opinions.
The legal requirements for three-dimensional drawings are the same as
for normal drawings of traffic accident or crime scenes: the dimensions
must be accurate and the scale must be stated. The newer technology of
video enhanced "3-D" recreations of the event may have problems with admissibility
in court but the use of stereo photographs has a long history of admissibility.
The use of 3-D images, whether photographs or drawings, does have an important role in visualizing an incident. Perspective in viewing has always been advantageous rather then detrimental to the viewer. Problems with 3-D photography in its current form include: the extra work required to properly view the images, the possibility that the person viewing the image has a visual defect preventing them from seeing the image in 3-D, and the lack of modern equipment to capture and properly view the images.
In order for the public and law enforcement to accept these 3-D images the process must be fairly easy to produce and should not require a separate viewing device. The future is nearer then most people think. 3-D television is currently being produced in Australia and Japan. The use of 3-D images in drawings are already here in the form of video animation.
Law enforcement is gradually being persuaded to use selectively use three-dimensional images. Video animation is currently used in criminal, traffic, and civil cases by both prosecution and the defense attorneys. 3-D photography has been used in recent civil cases but law enforcement officials are still reluctant to use 3-D photography in criminal cases. This barrier is crumbling but will not totally disappear until people are able to see three-dimensional images without the use of mechanical viewers. Holography, video animation and digitization of images will, in the near future, make viewing three-dimensional images a norm rather then a rarity.
3D Crime Scene Photos
Forensic Enterprises, Inc. * Orland Park, IL 60462 * 1-708-460-8082 * firstname.lastname@example.org * www.feinc.net