WICHITA, Kan. -

You might have seen it in the scene video, a box looking object on a yellow tripod at the scene of Thursday morning's police involved shooting.

That is a Leica ScanStation. A fairly new piece of technology for the Wichita Police Department. What it does has changed the way law enforcement agents can document the scene of a crime.

The Kansas Bureau of Investigation (KBI) was the first in the state to purchase one of these devices back in 2010. The agency has since bought a second device. One is usually housed in Topeka, the other in Wichita.

KBI Senior Special Agent Katie Whisman said the tool is invaluable to their agency.

"Within 50 meters, it's accuracy is within about 6 millimeters, so it's pretty good," said Whisman. "It's probably better than what we can do with a hand held measuring device."

The scanning device uses a laser to collect thousands of measurements of an area. In fact, every second, it collects 50,000 measurements collected as tiny pin points on the final product, a 3D photograph you can see from all different angles.

It can be programed to do different things, including 350 degree scans of rooms in houses. It will show bullet holes in couches, walls or other objects and with the help of trajectory rods, it can show how the bullet traveled and law enforcement officers will have a good idea of where that bullet was fired from.

"It's pretty popular on office involved shootings and we deploy it pretty much on all homicide investigations KBI is involved with," she said. "So we will deploy it and scan with the bodies in place if we have the ability to do that."

The 3D image can also be used to measure the distance between objects long after the scene has been cleared.

"Without this we would be hand measuring everything and creating a 2D diagram, taking our photos and all of our trajectory assessments would be manually done," she said. "That's still very valid. This has been validated as well."

Another feature, the 3D images can take a judge and jury back to the scene of a crime in ways photographs and video aren't able to.

"I'm sure you've heard of the CSI effect. This is allowing us to provide that product to juries that they expect to see because they watch CSI and shows like that," she said. "This has the ability to do something called 'witness view points'. If someone provides a statement to law enforcement that they were standing in a particular location and either did see or didn't see something, we can go into the final product and be able to represent what they could have seen from the location where they were standing."

In one 3D image the KBI showed KWCH Eyewitness News, nearly 5 million dots or measurements made up the image of an SUV, shot four times at a crime scene.

"If you look from this side, you can see with a driver in the seat of the vehicle being fired upon, just how close that individual came from being struck by a bullet," said Whisman.

Another image was of a small home, made up of several rooms and images of the exterior. That 3D image is made up of 92 million points of measurement.

"It does take some time to operate on scene, but the rewards are in the long run are worth that extra time," she said.

It also gets high reviews with arson investigations. 

"With arson scenes, they are completely black and it's hard to photograph with the absence of light. What this does, the intensity map shows hot spots or burn patterns that aren't shown through a digital photograph."

There are five Kansas agencies that have a device similar to this one, including Johnson County, Topeka Police and the Kansas Fire Marshall. One of the reason the device isn't more popular among local law enforcement agencies, is because of it's high cost.

The first device purchased by KBI was $220,000, including training. That money came from a grant and money from asset forfeiture.

"Not everyone has the funding for these types of tools," said Whisman. "Part of our mission is to assist those agencies with the resources they need whether in an investigation or processing crime scenes. We have it, so we can work for them."

KBI uses this tool at least a dozen times a year. Last year alone, it was used in the 32-hour fatal standoff at a Wichita apartment complex, the quadruple homicide in Parsons, the Greenwood County double homicide and the officer involved shooting in Butler County.