How a Technology Lease Enabled Santa Ana PD to Accelerate Scene Mapping

When the Santa Ana Police Department’s theodolite broke last fall, they had a decision to make: Repair the obsolete device or replace it. “Since we weren’t budgeting for replacement costs, once it was broken, we found ourselves in a pretty bad predicament,” says Investigator Weston Hadley, of the Collision Investigations Unit.

However, the situation also presented an excellent opportunity to catch up with current technology. Hadley’s unit had been mapping with a theodolite for 18 years, and the Crime Scene Investigations Unit was still using pencil, paper and tape measures. Instead of remaining locked in the past, the two units set their sights on a shared Leica RTC360 laser scanner. “It’s small and simple to use,” says Hadley, who was a driving force behind the upgrade. “And the scan times are significantly faster.”

Since their combined budgets didn’t allow for a large cash purchase, their local Leica Geosystems’ dealer, Sam El-Said, of Precision Survey Supply, suggested a technology lease. Through Leica Geosystems’ partnership with GreatAmerica Financial Services, the Santa Ana Police Department could lease a brand new Leica RTC360 with funds they already had.

A technology lease makes good business sense

The technology lease offered a number of benefits. For one, the low monthly lease payments meant they didn’t need to seek further appropriations from the Santa Ana City Council. “Of course, nobody wants to spend money unless they have to,” Hadley says. “It was more palatable to look at our budget and say, ‘Can we afford this much money out of our budget on a monthly, annual, fiscal year basis?’”

“What’s nice about laser scanning is that it has a lot of visual appeal. When you can actually show what it does, what it’s going to do for us, and how quickly it’s going to get it done, the benefits are so clear that you can quickly assess that it’s worth the investment.”

Secondly, the lease provides built-in obsolescence protection. “It’s really hard when a system has gone obsolete, which our old theodolite had,” he says. “It was beyond obsolescence at that point.” When the RTC360 lease ends in four years, the department has the option to return the scanner, purchase it, or upgrade to next-generation technology for a similar monthly payment. “It kind of forces that transition to stay with current technology,” he says. “That, to me, was a big appeal.”

The leasing process is easy

Investigator Weston Hadley, Santa Ana Police Department Collision Investigations Unit

Working with GreatAmerica was easy, Hadley says. The lease contract was simple and straightforward, and the company was quick to find palatable solutions to bureaucratic obstacles. “We had to work through some challenges,” Hadley says. “But GreatAmerica was very responsive.”

Getting the departmental go-aheads went smoothly, as well. “What’s nice about laser scanning is that it has a lot of visual appeal,” Hadley says. “You can describe it to somebody, but when you can actually show them what it does, what it’s going to do for us, and how quickly it’s going to get it done, the benefits are so clear that you can quickly assess that it’s worth the investment.”

Hadley worked closely with his chain of command to obtain City Council approval. Since a lease is tied to market rates, it’s a time sensitive process. But everyone in the units’ command structure was prepared. They understood the internal procedures as well as the time constraints and were ready to push the request through to the City in a timely manner. “They made it a priority because they knew that it was important to us here at the line level,” Hadley says.

And their effort paid off. Since the Santa Ana Police Department already had the money in their current budget and weren’t asking for further appropriations, council members readily approved the technology lease expenditure.

Well prepared for the future

Today, the Santa Ana Police Department is mapping at record speeds. Where it used to take several hours to collect hundreds of select data points, the RTC360 laser scanner is capturing the entire scene—millions of highly accurate data points—in less than 30 minutes.

The technology lease has proven to be an elegant solution that has positioned the Santa Ana Police Department on the cutting edge of laser scanning technology—and will keep it there for years to come. “Leasing makes so much sense because technology goes obsolete,” Hadley says. “And we are in the technology business.”

To learn more about how a technology lease or flexible financing can benefit your agency, please contact us.

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