Author Topic: MapScenes tools take students to higher level - case study on Mike Selves  (Read 23477 times)

Bob Galvin

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Case Study on Mike Selves, MapScenes Instructor by Bob Galvin

You might say that Mike Selves, a MapScenes instructor for the past ten years, has his work cut out for him. Why? One reason is that, as he puts it, the public is bombarded with technology every day, whether it’s in a retail store or on television. “They are seeing what’s out there and demanding technology (particularly technology for crime and crash scene investigation) that is better than what they’ve seen in the past,” Selves said. This is what has been coined the “CSI effect,” referring to astounding, albeit exaggerated, high-tech methods of forensic investigation applied to solving crimes, all compressed into one hour of each episode of “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.” Another reason Selves feels compelled to offer the right kind of training is that he must condense the key features of MapScenes software functionality into one or two weeks of training, hoping most students both retain and practice what they’ve learned.

Students attending the MapScenes Forensic Mapping Software Training classes that Selves offers have varying technology skill levels. This is why Selves urges students, especially new students versus existing customers, to take his two-week class, each offering certification for 40 completed hours of instruction. One week is devoted to learning the MapScenes Forensic CAD program, and in the second week students learn how to use MapScenes Evidence Recorder and basics of total station operation. The two-week course is the best way to receive crash and forensic mapping, believes Selves. “It gives students a lot more hands-on training,” he said. Selves and his trainers are former troopers, certified law enforcement officers, or retired officers. “So, it’s law enforcement teaching law enforcement,” Selves said.

More Roadway, Physical Evidence Can Be Mapped

The software and total stations are what make these training classes so valuable. One reason, Selves said, is that a lot more data points can be mapped whereas previously it would take two measurements to get one data point, and “you were only getting the bare amount of physical evidence you needed.” A total station now allows a reconstructionist to map more of the roadway because it will measure further than a tape measure. Also, not only can physical evidence be captured, but the contour of the road as well. The classes Selves offers also show how a total station is valuable for both 2D and 3D mapping. “Before, we were just getting X&Y coordinates and making a 2D map,” Selves explains. “With the total station, we’re able to get that three-dimensional view that gives the X, Y & Z coordinates, whether it’s a view obstruction or a crime scene with blood spatter on the wall. And we’re able to import these coordinates into a 3D drawing.”

Court Presentation, Securing Evidence Stressed

Selves stresses to students that learning the software and total station functionality is pivotal since they inevitably will need to present their diagrams in a courtroom. “They need to make sure they get every aspect of scene documentation through court, and that there is a chronological order of how the measurements were obtained and what they did with collected evidence points once processed,” Selves said.

A major advantage that Selves sees with using the MapScenes is that once evidence points are processed from Evidence Recorder and imported into MapScenes Forensic CAD, each data point is protected. “That’s a huge thing for me to have the integrity of these points protected,” Selves said. “This capability gives anyone using this software confidence when talking to a judge or jury or a prosecuting attorney that the points are protected and secure. The key advantage here is that MapScenes is the only software that not only protects these points, but also flags when changes have been made,” Selves added.

Students Urged To ‘Become Better Investigators’

Sooner or later, any of the students taking a class from Selves may have to enter a courtroom to defend a mapped and diagrammed crash or crime scene. “Any time there’s a serious crash or a murder scene, these cases will go to court,” Selves added. “So you must lay out the scene to be able to portray what you saw to the jury and judge.” To this end, Selves urges students to become a better investigator, not just someone who reports what is at a scene. Total stations and CAD drawing systems are ways students can become better investigators by carefully documenting and proving their theories based on the facts, Selves argues.

Learning total station operation, how to collect evidence and draw scaled diagrams, then how to secure data, and possibly reproduce that data if questioned in court are at the core of what Selves instructs his students. After all, he notes, “Some of these scenes might not go to court for a year or two, or longer.”

Instruction Takes Students to Higher Skills Level

In addition to instruction on using Leica total stations and laser scanners, Selves and his trainers teach the full range of MapScenes software, including EvR, Capture and PointCloud. A MapScenes Capture class is an advanced class requiring another week of training. If an agency who sends a student to Selves’ class has purchased a laser scanner, the student would need a week of Leica scanner training and one more week to learn MapScenes Point Cloud.

No matter what level of training the students receive, it will be as technologically current as possible for today’s scene reconstruction demands. Also, each additional class takes students to a higher level of expertise, such as cloud point mapping and 3D diagramming within a point cloud, but without overwhelming them.

Students’ Supervisors Get Same Training

The biggest concern Selves has about his classes is that students retain what they learn after they’ve had the MapScenes and equipment instruction. Therefore, he has a solution to ensure the students do not lose what they learn. “I try to make sure the top level management of each law enforcement agency that sends students to my classes also attend so they can see our process and how the equipment is used,” Selves said. “I always try to make management realize that because of the money they’ve spent on training and equipment, they need to allow their investigators to practice what they’ve learned regularly.” This may mean that law enforcement agencies send officers who have taken classes from Selves attend periodic brush-up classes.

The students “are good investigators now,” Selves said. “They will be even better with these tools.” The aid of MapScenes software and the associated mapping equipment is what helps make Selves and his trainers successful with their classes.

Combined, the law enforcement experience, skills in scene reconstruction, and the easy-to-learn MapScenes solutions “makes them better investigators and brings their credibility to a level where it’s unquestioned,” Selves concluded.
« Last Edit: December 15, 2012, 09:56:01 PM by Bob Galvin »