What is Crime Scene Reconstruction?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 07 March 2020
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Crime scene reconstruction is a technique which is used in the law enforcement community to gather more information about specific crimes, like robberies, and criminal events, like acts of terrorism. The reconstruction is used to help investigators interpret and explore evidence, and it may also be utilized in the profiling of potential criminals, as well as the prosecution of the case in court. There are varying degrees of depth and complexity to crime scene reconstruction, ranging from casual conversations among a group of investigators to complex computer models which can be used in a courtroom.

Investigators have been engaging in crime scene reconstruction for centuries, but the field really started to explode in the 1990s, when it began to emerge as a legitimate investigative technique, and professional organizations dedicated to crime scene reconstruction were established. In a reconstruction, forensic professionals work together to map out the scene of a crime or event, determining what happened, how it happened, when it happened, and where it happened.


For example, when forensic investigators are called to the scene of a murder, they would walk through the scene, taking photographs, logging evidence, and getting a feel for the scene. They would use their collected data along with the information from the autopsy of the victim to map out the scene, establishing a probable scenario for the sequence of events. Using this scenario, investigators might come up with effective lines of questioning for suspects, or they may uncover clues which could be used to track down a suspect.

A variety of crimes can be investigated with the use of crime scene reconstruction. In all cases, the reconstruction blends the scientific method, observation of the scene and the evidence, experience in criminal investigations, and collected data from witnesses and investigators. It is also important to remember that the reconstruction is merely the most probable explanation for the event, not necessarily the empirical truth.

Being able to explore the evidence and to map out potential scenarios can be very useful. Sometimes information is not readily apparent or readable at the scene, but it becomes uncovered as investigators reconstruct the crime scene. Likewise, data collected at the scene and from the evidence can be used to rule out potential scenarios, or reinforce the possibility that a particular scenario was especially likely. While the process of creating a reconstruction can take time, it may save time and energy in the long term by pointing investigators in the right direction.



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