Panoscan Welcomes Forensic Reconstruction Services
Los Angeles, CA - Panoscan, Inc., a Van Nuys corporation that designs and manufacturers ultra high resolution digital panoramic cameras for law enforcement, homeland security and military applications, today announced that Forensic Reconstruction Services, of Oakdale, MN, has been selected to join Panoscan's dealer and service provider network.
"Panoscan's MK-3, digital panoramic camera is ideal for exactly the kind of work that FRS specializes in," said Panoscan President, Ted Chavalas. "Our ultra high resolution and measurement capabilities are two of the features that have attracted the attention of law enforcement agencies throughout the world. It is a pleasure to have Mr. Schmalzbauer using the camera in his work, and demonstrating it to other specialists in his highly important field."
Donald J. Schmalzbauer, President of F.R.S. is a certified crash reconstructionist, and forensic mappist, with over 26 years of experience as a police officer specializing in crime scene and crash reconstruction. "We did extensive research on this technology, and we have no doubt that for our specialized work, Panoscan's system is far superior to anything else on the market today..." said Donald Schmalzbauer. "This is a very important tool for the law enforcement industry." Panoscan welcomes Forensic Reconstruction Services and we are certain that Mr. Schmalzbauer's extensive experience, knowledge and integrity will benefit Panoscan customers greatly.
More information about the company and its innovative products and applications can be found at
Trooper Pioneered Crash Solutions Schmalzbauer Hangs Up Hat after 22 Years as Recon Specialist
By Technical Sergeant Matt Langer
After 29 years of sworn law enforcement service, Technical Sergeant Don Schmalzbauer retired from the Minnesota State Patrol on May 9. Along with many others, I had the privilege of working closely with Don as he held the position of reconstruction coordinator.
Don's career in law enforcement began as a police officer for New Prague in 1977. While working for the New Prague Police Department, Don was tasked with directing the ambulance service and was promoted to sergeant before accepting an opportunity to work as a police officer for Maple Grove. Don's tenure in Maple Grove lasted only about a year as he was accepted into the Minnesota State Patrol academy in 1981.
Graduating from the Minnesota State Patrol academy was the culmination of a goal Don had set for himself when he became interested in law enforcement as a profession. Don credits the late Jim Davis, a former trooper, with fostering his interest in the Minnesota State Patrol. After graduation from the Minnesota State Patrol academy, Don was assigned to "Project 20," where he worked as part of a team that traveled around Minnesota enforcing traffic laws. As permanent station assignments, Don worked the 4450 Station on dogwatch as well as the 2410 Station. In 1984, Don was selected to attend crash reconstruction training taught by Troopers Rod Lundgren and Scott McAllen. Don said, "[I] liked the challenge of putting the pieces of a crash together, which resulted in personal satisfaction and confidence." In addition, he felt the work he conducted as a reconstructionist directly benefited each victim's family.
In 1986, Don was assigned district investigator duties in the East Metro District. This was long before the position of district investigator was formalized and as widespread as it is today. In 1998, Don opted to transfer to the Training Center as the reconstruction coordinator, the position he held until retirement. This position eventually was transferred to the Investigative Services Section where it is based today. As coordinator of the reconstruction program, Don was responsible for tremendous growth and technological advancement.
After being introduced to total station mapping via a videotape from the Washington State Patrol obtained by Mike McBride, Don was able to secure hand-me-down equipment from MNDoT. While rudimentary by today's standards, this was the beginning of what has become the standard scene measurement technique in crash reconstruction. Mike McBride and Don were able to secure a grant enabling purchase of five Sokkia total stations in 1995. A $350,000 grant he later secured enabled the purchase of most of the mapping equipment currently in use today. Funding in 2005 allowed for upgrading some of this original equipment.
Always attempting to stay current with technology, Don attended the very first training offered in regard to EDR- or "black box"-technology for crash reconstruction in 2000. Other advances in technology under Don's tenure included digital photogrammetry from the ground and air, working with Colonel Dunaski when he was captain of the Flight Section, and three-dimensional mapping software. Since becoming a reconstructionist, Don has attended countless hours of training, a great many of which he undertook at his own expense. Suffice to say, Don's resume stands on its own without the need for much explanation. While Don's impact on the reconstruction program could go on and on, Don will be remembered for other aspects including his dedication and work ethic. One memorable day, Christmas Eve of 1987, Don was called out and ended up responding to three consecutive fatal crashes. Don has had significant involvement in the investigations of six police officers killed in the line of duty including our own fallen members Tim Bowe and Ted Foss. Other notable investigations Don was involved with included a crash killing seven students near Alexandria in 1994, Herb Brooks' crash in 2003 and many other high-profile events.
Don received a life saving award in 1989 that had nothing to do with a crash. He responded to a house explosion and found a man running out the front door with his clothes on fire. Don forced the man down into a snow bank, extinguishing the flames. The man ended up being charged with and convicted of arson. Don was named Department of Public Safety employee of the year in 1990. In addition to those awards, Don has been the recipient of numerous written commendations that flooded his personnel file as a result of tremendous work.
After 29 years of service, 22 as a reconstruction specialist, Don has certainly seen more than his share of horrible tragedy. In retirement, Don looks forward to a slower pace and less stress. His plans include staying active in the reconstruction field in many ways, including traveling throughout the country instructing forensic mapping classes. A renewed interest in snowmobiling and love for photography are sure to keep him as busy as he wants. However, spending time with his wife Jeanette without thoughts of being called out to a fatal crash is at the top of his list. I'm certain I speak for many when I say Don has raised the bar for what is expected in terms of crash reconstruction in Minnesota. The Attorney General's Office, dozens of county attorneys, police agencies, civil attorneys, crash victims and others are aware of Don's contribution to the field of crash reconstruction as a Minnesota state trooper. Those of us who have been able to work under Don's experience have benefited tremendously from his knowledge, experience, and reputation.
Dr. Janis Amatuzio of Midwest Forensic Pathology wrote, "Sergeant Don Schmalzbauer is one of the finest professionals with whom I've worked. As a forensic pathologist and county coroner, my job is to speak for the dead about what really happened, and to speak this truth clearly to their loved ones and t the courts. Don's presence at the scene of a fatal crash always reassured me the truth would be told completely, honestly and with his personal guarantee that the crash reconstruction work- and his word-could be trusted. "Don was an asset as a crash reconstructionist and his work will be missed by prosecutors," wrote Isanti County attorney Jeff Edblad. "He was a consummate professional. Don's work on a staged crash was instrumental and a significant piece of the overall puzzle, which was critical in being able to demonstrate to the court that the incident was in fact a homicide."
On behalf of the entire Minnesota State Patrol, I thank Don for the effort he put forth as a state trooper. Your time, talents and contributions are evident and here to stay for many years to come. Enjoy retirement!
This article originally appeared in The Minnesota Trooper Magazine in the summer 2006 issue. Reprinted with permission.