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New APD tool aims to cut traffic time after fatal Seward Highway crashes

Published: Jun. 28, 2017 at 9:24 PM AKDT
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An upgrade in technology at the Anchorage Police Department is promising to dramatically increase the accuracy and efficiency of homicide investigations with the help of 3D mapping.

Currently APD uses a two-dimensional tool known as a Total Station while investigating a death in Anchorage. The Total Station requires movement of an officer from location to location to map about 150 to 300 evidence points before clearing the scene.

According to APD, the new FARO 3D Scanner can map a million evidence points, scanning from a 360 degree position in about eight minutes.

“A typical investigation could shut down the [Seward] Highway for three to four hours,” Acting Deputy Chief of Police Ken McCoy told assembly members. “This new equipment will speed that process up, and hopefully within a half hour we’re able to get the highway clear, have our investigation complete and get traffic moving again.”

The Anchorage Assembly approved the purchase of a FARO 3D Scanner for $151,929 at Tuesday’s meeting. The equipment was paid for by an Alaska Department of Transportation grant.

Thirteen year veteran to the APD Traffic Unit, Sergeant Richard Steiding, said the new system will be an asset to the department.

“Being able to actually upgrade our equipment and hopefully speed up the process of our investigations, as well as be able to produce more detailed evidence that we can present in court, it's really a big step in the right direction,” said Steiding.

According to Steiding, the FARO system will be able to be deployed at any homicide scene and will not strictly be used for traffic incidents.

“Anything that occurs within a building, the equipment is small enough and portable enough we can use it anywhere in the city,” said Steiding.

The new FARO 3D Scanner is expected to arrive in Alaska within the next few months, but it’s unclear when it will be deployed in the field.

Although APD has never owned this equipment before, Steiding said State Troopers are currently using a FARO system. With both departments soon to be using the same 3D mapping tool, Steiding expects it will help the two agencies collaborate better on future investigations.