When law officers respond to a school emergency, like a shooting or a hostage situation, their greatest fear is the unknown.
What's the layout of the school?
Where could a student hide?
Where could the bad guys be?
A device being used by one local law enforcement agency could eliminate some of those questions...
"...and just give us an idea of where we could go to have a better advantage," says Lt. Daniel Steelman. He works in the forensics unit of the Baldwin County Sheriff's Office. He’s referring to a gizmo perched on a tripod, called a scan station. It uses a laser to scan buildings both inside and out to create a kind of 3-D picture of the property. Lt. Steelman and coworkers are already using it to document crime scenes.
Now, they're scanning select schools in Baldwin County so officers have a 3D image of what they might encounter inside before they even enter a building.
We caught up with him at the CV Taylor Alternative School in Robertsdale.
"The whole devise will spin 360 degrees," he says, as the device spins and a small mirror flips as the scanner bounces laser beams off surfaces to create it’s images..
As an example, Lt Steeman and staff ran a scan of the sheriff's office's gym... taking a series of photos that allow the viewer to use a computer screen and see the inside from left to right, and top to bottom.. and every tiny spot inbetween.
"Then we stitch together, almost like a quilt,” says Steelman, “the entire footprint of these scans, we'll probably do 120 of these scans... "
The result is a clear picture of every nook and cranny... the kind of places bad people like to hide.
But now, the surprise will be on them, giving officers more info, a nd students a better chance to survive what used to be the unthinkable.