On Scene with OSCR360: Documenting an Unattended Death
My name is Alex (Alexandra) Myers and I work with OSCR360 (you can read about our experiences here). My job is pretty sweet – I travel nationwide demo-ing OSCR360 to law enforcement agencies, public safety departments, educational institutions and private agencies. I’ve experienced food, culture and history from all over the country and I’m having a blast…but best of all, I’ve had the opportunity to SEE and LEARN so much from the investigators and detectives I’ve met. I’ve written this blog series to give you a sneak peek at some of my most memorable stops and to share how other agencies have been using OSCR. Enjoy!
My First Live Scene
Following a referral from the Detective’s Division of a nearby police department, I arrived at the headquarters of a large law enforcement agency in Pennsylvania that was interested in OSCR, including how it could speed up their scene documentation and save them time on-scene.
Jumping right in, I began presenting in a room of 8 detectives, a Sergeant, and a Captain. Things were going smoothly and OSCR60 seemed to have captured some attention. The next thing I knew, their unit secretary interrupted to announce that they needed 2 detectives to respond to a suspicious death in a vehicle. Without missing a beat, one of the detectives looked at me and asked, “Ever seen a dead body?”
I responded, “Only in pictures and when I know they’re coming!”
Ten minutes later, and with the Sergeant’s approval, I found myself in the back of one of their crime scene vans following THREE others to the scene. That’s right…. four total forensics unit vans from the department were responding to and documenting an unattended death.
Pausing for a minute, I’d like to point out a few things here:
- I’d never been to a live scene before.
- The victim’s body was still on scene.
- Our lights were whirling.
- The city streets were narrow.
You could say I was a bit nervous…
We pulled up to the scene, which was a vehicle in a parking lot with a body inside. “Here goes nothing,” I thought.
Instantly the two lead detectives started running their scene. The remaining six or so detectives wandered over to me, wanting to start playing with the OSCR360 Capture Kit. Since we hadn’t gotten very far into all of what OSCR was capable of when we got called out, no one from the department had actually seen how the system worked (yet). In 5 minutes, I had six detectives trained on OSCR and taking pictures all over the parking lot to test it out. Shadows, clarity on bullet casings (props), sunlight vs. lowlight, height differences…you name it, they were testing it. And I should mention – they loved every photo they took.
Once the Medical Examiner’s Office arrived, we then turned to the vehicle. With minimal instruction, the two lead detectives on the case used OSCR to start documenting the exterior and interior of the vehicle. After approximately six 360-degree OSCR photos, they had everything they needed for their overalls and switched to standard DSLR photography to take close-ups of the door handles, vehicle registration, etc.
OSCR360 was helpful in documenting an unattended death, in this case for numerous reasons:
- At this point in the investigation, every indication was leading to death by natural causes. However, should the death be later deemed as suspicious, the investigators would have everything captured in full detail (without the excess of dozens of overall photos).
- OSCR is so small, the detectives were able to easily capture the most hard-to-reach and hard-to-document areas, including the entirety of the vehicle’s interior.
- At about 4 seconds per photograph, they thoroughly documented the entire scene in approximately 5 minutes.
- The tablet gave the detectives an instant on-screen review of each photograph they took. So, while one detective was walking around with the camera system, the other seven detectives were able to look at the tablet and evaluate the photographs from afar.
- OSCR captures your GPS coordinates and cardinal direction. In the desktop software, after syncing our photos, it pin-pointed the exact location of each photo on the map, automatically.
Post-Production in OSCR360
Following the use of the Capture Kit, we then went back to headquarters and used the OSCR software to sync their photos. In doing so, we created a project using the “Point
s of Interest” feature to embed their digital close-up photographs.
The detectives who did not respond to the scene later sat with me and reviewed the OSCR photos. They were blown away with the quality of the photos, what it was able to capture, the accuracy of the GPS pins, and finally the comprehensive presentation that the OSCR software created for case organization and trial.
Leaving the department that afternoon, I spent some time reflecting on what I had just experienced. I gained so much respect for law enforcement and I am incredibly thankful to the police department for the opportunity to accompany them to my first scene.