New infrared laser technology to help Shawnee police work efficiently

SHAWNEE, Kan. -- New technology that could save some of your tax dollars is coming to the Shawnee Police Department.

The Shawnee City Council recently approved about $70,000 to buy a Faro 3D Laser Scanner. It will help officers map crime and crash scenes faster, with better accuracy.

The Faros are infrared lasers. They collect scene measurements on a cloud, with accuracy of plus or minus one millimeter. Essentially, it does all the work by taking "pictures," and takes out room for human error, making for a more efficient process.

"If we put the scanner out there we can get all the data we need from the scene and all the evidence collected, we will be able to open up the road way quicker," Sgt. Steve Walsh with the Shawnee Police Department said.

Right now, Shawnee PD is using the same system it had since 2002, a 2D system called "Total Station" that requires four or five officers to operate it for hours at a time. The Faro lasers only need one officer to operate it, and the entire process usually only takes one hour. Walsh says the laser will even help from a legal standpoint.

"Jurors and judges will be able to see in a 3D view what we see out there and it’s going to be more realistic than the 2D view of what we’re currently creating in our Total Stations," Walsh said.

Lenexa Police added the Faro laser scanner to its tool kit more than a year ago. Officers there already experienced the benefits Shawnee is looking forward to, like saving money in manpower and getting all the crash information. Sgt. Jay Richards with Lenexa's Traffic unit says the department saved money in manpower hours, since they don't need as many officers on crash scenes.

"With the laser scanners, even stuff you may not realize is important information, or documents it," Sgt. Jay Richards said. "It’s all there. It does a 360 scan."

The laser works in the daytime and night time, inside and outside. Lenexa hasn’t used the Faro laser on crime scenes yet but says - it’s a possibility.

"We are toying with the idea of when we have a crime scene that is not something we would necessarily call the crime lab out for, possibly calling the traffic unit out with our Faro scanner," Richards said.

Once Shawnee PD gets the laser officers will have a five day training on how to use it. They’ll even use it to help other departments in the metro. The laser should arrive soon.