MARYSVILLE – It almost doesn’t seem FARO.
The Marysville Police Department has obtained a three-dimensional imaging device made by FARO.
“It’s the CSI effect juries want to see more of at a crime or crash scene,” Cmdr. Mark Thomas said, comparing it to a TV football replay with cameras from many different angles.
Most people probably will notice its use at car accident scenes. Instead of taking two hours to investigate, it might just take a half hour with this device.
Only the MPD and State Patrol own the device in Snohomish County. It has gone down in price from hundreds of thousands of dollars a few years ago to $90,000 now.
The MPD says it will save plenty of money just in staff costs investigating scenes. The FARO puts out 668,000 high-definition photo scans a second. So when a train and car collided on 136th recently, it took one person one hour and twenty minutes to capture all the details. Prior to FARO, that same scene would have taken four people four hours. So it reduces time and manpower.
Sgt. Jim Maples is a believer in the technology.
“Just baseline measurements would take hours if not days,” he said. “It speeds up investigations, provides factual information, there’s less chance of error, so it will stand up in court.” It also can solves problems other ways. If there is an accident on Fourth or State during rush hour, basic marks can be made, then police can come back later when traffic is quieter.
“It allows us to retrace our steps. It takes a fraction of the time it used to,” Maples said.
Thomas said FARO will be used more in the future, once guidelines and protocols are established. It’s been used in a few major cases, such as a fatal fire and stabbing.
Sgt. Wayne Kawika Davis said evidence gathered by FARO has been “vetted in Canada and U.S. courts.”
He said police can edit evidence to what’s relevant to the crime or make raw data available to the prosecution on insurance company.
Thomas said it’s a fine line working with insurance companies. Because of the public disclosure act, they are required to give out certain information at their discretion. But their job is to go after criminals and protect the city from liability concerns. Davis said FARO provides so much better information than what they used to be able to provide.
FARO can show a crime or crash scene from above and below. On a recent fatal fire, they were able to take the roof off to show where the fire started inside. It can then zoom in on the couch.
“We can walk around a crime scene and show it to scale if that’s what they want,” he said of prosecutors and FARO’s ability to shoot 360 degrees.
They gave another example of FARO’s ability. What if a trucker hit somebody and said they couldn’t see them. FARO could help show whether the trucker could or couldn’t.
The first case involving information obtained by FARO is in court next week. It was a shooting at 47th and 74th after an agitated man got off a Community Transit bus on State. He walked a few blocks then allegedly shot and killed a man in his yard. FARO was brought to the crime scene, because MPD didn’t have enough investigators working to use the old equipment.
“That was the final straw” in the need to get one, Thomas said. “We have high expectations for it. When we get more comfortable with it in time it will become part of more investigations.”