Seattle Police Foundation Invests in the Seattle Police Department Force Investigation Team (FIT)


June 18, 2024

With SPD’s ongoing staffing shortfalls and budget limitations, our work to help the department maximize technology to increase efficiencies across investigations without compromising standards is more vital than ever.   

The Force Investigation Team’s (FIT) brand-new Leica BLK360 laser scanner is a great example of one of the many ways we invest in state-of-the-art technology to help detectives perform their jobs faster and with more accuracy. SPD’s FIT is tasked with the investigation of all Type III use of force incidents (Type III is a category used to define different types of force used by officers), so the ability to accurately capture measurements and other spatial details at the scene of an incident is of paramount importance to FIT detectives.

The request for this new piece of technology came to the Seattle Police Foundation during our fall 2023 grants process. The Leica BLK360 laser scanner was recommended for funding, as its value was clearly recognized by our grant review committee and our Board of Directors.

While there are some cases in which SPD’s Crime Scene Investigations (CSI) Unit detectives respond to scenes alongside FIT, and capture the scene with its own laser scanner, with Type III investigations, FIT takes on the entire workload itself.

Prior to the Leica BLK360, FIT detectives captured the scene the old-fashioned way; they took measurements by hand and sketched the scene out on a pad of paper. Digital photos helped tell the story, but scene details were primarily collected manually by the investigator, which was time-consuming and reflected human-level margins of error.

If a detective later realized that they needed a different measurement, they were often out of luck, particularly if the use of force occurred outdoors in a busy public area. With the Leica BLK360, forgetting a measurement is a thing of the past, as it smoothly captures a digital 3D model of any space, either indoors or outdoors, in a fraction of the time it takes a human to do the same. It’s precise, lightweight, and easy to transport.  

With the Leica BLK360, FIT detectives no longer have to worry about missing details.

“The question is answered before we even know we have the question,” said FIT Det. Dan Erickson, who has taken the lead on the implementation of this new technology.  

As you can imagine, the Leica BLK360 isn’t something that you unbox and immediately deploy at a scene, but luckily, Det. Erickson is incredibly tech-savvy and has embraced the new tool with enthusiasm and a thirst for tactical knowledge. He is thrilled by its potential and is in the process of learning the ins and outs of the tool while also training his teammates.

We are incredibly thankful for the generous donors who make these investments possible. FIT Detective Erickson and Acting Captain Pat Daly recently echoed our gratitude.  

“This was an awesome piece of equipment for us to get our hands on,” Daly said. “We really do appreciate this.”