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December 20, 2013

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Finding the Funding for Your Laser Scanning Technology Needs


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3D laser scanning technology is having a tremendous impact in the investigation of crime, fire and accident scenes. “It is going to affect forensic investigation very much like DNA affected the world of biology,” said Steve Holloway, deputy director of the Wyoming Crime Laboratory, which adopted laser scanning technology more than two years ago. “Laser scanning is going to become the gold standard for processing crime scenes across the country in perhaps 10 years. It may not even take that long.” With such an important revolution taking place, how do public safety agencies find funds to acquire this state-of-the-art technology before they get left behind?

Common Solutions for Technology Funding

An obvious solution is purchase approval. The purchase approval process varies according to who is the agency’s funding authority is, Holloway explains. In most cases, local police departments receive their budget through city councils, sheriffs’ offices through their county commissioners, and state agencies through their legislatures. Because of this, the ease or difficulty varies widely. It is also influenced by the levels of revenue the funding authority is receiving. Depressed areas are going to have more difficulty obtaining funding than affluent regions. Areas that have been more severely affected by the economic downturn may need to look at alternative and creative funding plans to implement this technology.

Another option is to work with the funding you already have. When the decision was made to purchase a laser scanner for the Wyoming Crime Lab, Holloway was able to lower operating costs and free up funds already available within the lab’s budget in less than nine months. “We receive funding for instrumentation, instrument repairs, etc.,” Holloway explains. “Because of less-than-expected expenses in those areas—combined with renegotiating service contracts, changing some vendors, and switching to bulk ordering where possible—we were able to lower our overall operating costs. I then put together this savings from several different funding sources to make the purchase.”

Alternative Funding Options

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If budget-tightening is not the answer for your agency, alternative funding options are available, including loans, guarantees, donations, contributions, asset forfeiture funds and grants. “It really depends on how quickly an agency needs to execute a project or make a purchase,” said Sarah Wilson, director of grant programs for PoliceGrantsHelp.com, which provides free grant assistance to current and prospective Leica Geosystems clients. “Grants do not move quickly. Some of these other options move much quicker.”

For small agencies or those located in extremely depressed areas, Holloway suggests that nearby agencies share ownership of a laser scanner. “If agencies will look at building alliances with surrounding agencies and doing a cost-share type basis,” Holloway said, “they will find that this technology is incredibly affordable.”

Whatever funding option your agency implements, your 3D laser scanner investment will pay off in more ways than one. “Because of the amount of time and money that you can save handling your crime scenes this way,” Holloway said, “it will pay for itself.”

Go here to learn how to get free grant assistance, or contact us for more information.