High-Tech Law Enforcement | Close up - The Current Affairs Documentary | DW | 31.05.2019
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High-Tech Law Enforcement

Police and law enforcement are using the latest technology to help them solve crimes - including 3D scanners to analyze crime scenes, a virtual alternative to traditional autopsies called the "virtopsy," and officers specialized in face-recognition.

Watch video 28:36

The 3D laser-scanners and virtual reality technology that police are using to capture crime scenes, means that law enforcement and their forensics department can now retain nearly every detail of a crime scene. The images can be stored indefinitely, enabling law enforcement to revisit the crime scene using virtual reality tech whenever the need arises. In the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia, police have software that predicts where burglaries are likely to occur. The software analyzes break-in data, and identifies which neighborhoods are most at risk. This allows officers to focus their prevention efforts on the target areas. For example, if a suspicious-looking vehicle with out-of-town license plates is spotted in a high risk neighborhood, officers can pull over and question the driver in an effort to prevent break-ins before they happen. Meanwhile Munich police are using what they refer to as "super recognizers" to spot crime suspects. These officers have highly developed facial-recognition skills, and frequently outperform even the latest facial-recognition devices. Munich's police department now employs 30 of these "super recognizers”. They can pick suspects out of crowds, or identify them from surveillance-camera footage or passport photos. In Zurich, autopsies have gotten a high-tech makeover. Law enforcement agents are now using computed tomography scans, more commonly known as CT scans, to analyze the bodies of murder victims or those who've been killed in road accidents. They call this method for conducting an autopsy a "virtopsy." The scans provide a detailed documentation of a victim’s physical condition, which can be stored in an archive for possible later use at criminal trials. This evidence can be used to determine whether a gunshot wound was caused by a specific weapon linked to a suspect, or whether a driver who's been charged with vehicular homicide is telling the truth.