The Santa Ana, California, Police Department is of one the latest to use new 3-D scanning technology to survey crime scenes.

The latest version of the Leica 3-D scan station that Santa Ana PD is using can help officers and detectives process crime scenes faster and with more accuracy. The technology creates a virtual image of a crime scene in less than two minutes. The complete scan of an entire area takes about 20 minutes, a process that took hours before.

Leica Geosystems says that the new technology is so advanced it can capture 2 million data points per second. It also touches upon data points that would not usually be identified as evidence, thereby broadening the scope of work. This allows officers to process scenes quicker, get back on patrols, open roads, and relieve congestion sooner.

The St. Louis County Police Department is also now using new 3-D technology that is quite similar to Santa Ana’s. The scanners can take thousands of photographs, capture millions of points of information, and turn them into a 3-D image.

The time taken to process a crime scene and send the data to investigators is shortened to an hour and a half. St. Louis PD also agrees that the cost of the technology is worth it.

3-D scanners are on the top of the wish list for most PDs and law enforcement agencies to help them solve crimes. 3-D scanners offer a high-tech virtual alternative to traditional crime scene autopsy. They allow forensics departments to retain nearly every detail of a crime scene and even enable law enforcement to predict crimes ahead of their occurrence.

Park City, Utah, police are considering a new 3-D scanning technology called HEXWAVE, which uses radar and artificial intelligence to identify suspicious objects. The new tech would be used at sports stadiums, schools, and large events to beef up event security.

When individuals walk past the tool’s panels, HEXWAVE creates a map of points on metallic and nonmetallic objects, including pipe bombs, pressure cookers in a backpack, bomb vests and others. Based on the points, the system develops a 3-D image to determine what the object is in real-time so police can act immediately and try and prevent a tragedy from occurring.

The Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) has partnered with Israeli police to invest in a new 3-D crime scene mapping tool called 3D-Hawk.

The device uses high-definition video footage and can turn a crash or crime scene into an interactive, virtual 3-D model. The incident scene can be moved to the police station for in-depth analysis right away.

Outside of the U.S., 3-D scanning technology represents significant initiatives in Canada and the U.K. Calgary police are one of the first to invest in such a tool, hoping to speed up the crime-solving process.

Police in Wales are focused on creating the virtual crime scene using 3-D video. The recordings will include an overlay and virtually tag objects using hand gestures along with the surroundings. Officers can build a clear record of the scene in this video before evidence is removed and reconstruct projectile trajectories.