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Greensboro Police Department Considers Accident Reconstruction Software Upgrade

6:20 PM, Mar 8, 2013   |    comments
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Greensboro, NC -- The Greensboro police department is pursuing a governor's grant for a major technology upgrade.

Police Chief Ken Miller says the department is looking to purchase software that will dramatically change their accident reconstruction process as well as increase accuracy and speed.

The tool the department uses now is about 18-years-old and is nearing its life expectancy.

Sergeant T.A. Long, head of the crash reconstruction division, says if the system continues to be used in its old age, it could cause some accuracy issues in the future.

Long says he's looking forward to replacing the system.

If the department can purchase the software it's eyeing, the officer uses the analogy that their accident reconstructions would go from an Etch-A-Sketch to an iPad.

"When defense can come in or the private reconstructions can come in, they can do a whole re-animation. It's almost like a mini-movie they can present in court," Officer A.D. Reed with the division said. "And we walk in with a flat piece of paper with a bunch of dots on it."

Yes, a bunch of dots and sometimes a two-dimensional drawing of a car to boost.

Officers say the current system works, but doesn't put them on the same playing field against defendants in criminal cases.

Case in point, the 2011 drunk driving accident on West Market Street that killed two people.

"The driver of the car was originally charged with second degree murder," said Sergeant Long.

The defense showed up with a detailed animation of the crash; and police? A flat, paper drawing.

In the end, the driver was sentenced to a lesser charge.

"Whether or not we had that technology, I can not say 100 percent, we would have been successful in prosecuting him for the charges that were originally filed, however, it would have presented our evidence in a better light," Long explained.

The new software would allow officers to shoot an entire accident scene without having to shut down the road for a long period of time.

A search for "360 Aras" brings up YouTube videos which show how the software operates.

It can recreate an accident scene in 3-D.

It uses GPS function and has Google-like satellite imaging. 

It can also incorporate speed, how factors like the sun played a role and most importantly, who caused the crash.

"If anyone, heaven forbid, is involved in a crash like this, you would want the best trained, the most well-equipped person that we can provide to you to come and investigate these kinds of crashes and that's what this step will help us to do," Long said.

The police department has now submitted an application for a grant through the Governor's Highway Safety Program.

If the department is approved, the grant would cover 75% of the cost of the software. Money from drug seizures would cover the rest.

Chief Ken Miller says he's optimistic and if all goes well, the system could be in place as soon as May.

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