How a Texas Police Department Found More Time for Policing Through RFID

Police officers in a Dallas suburb are spending more time policing and less time accounting for their gear these days, thanks to adoption of an asset management solution that uses RFID tags to track everything they need, down to the uniforms on their backs.

According to a recent post on the RFID Journal blog, Richardson Police Chief Jimmy Spivey told the City Council that asset tracking has saved officers loads of time and improved public safety.

“The biggest bang for our buck – not just from a homeland security point of view – is knowing where these police uniforms are,” Spivey said, according to RFID Journal.

Estimated ROI from Asset Management

As far as efficiency, he said, officers now have 30 more minutes a day to do their jobs. Across the department, that time adds up to many more hours of patrol time. He estimates about $9,000 per patrol car in annual labor and efficiency savings.

“It used to take an officer about 10 to 15 minutes to go to a briefing, go out in parking lot, inventory their car, log onto the system and catalog their inventory into the system so they checked out their equipment out every day,” Spivey said. “Now, they take a handheld reader, take it out to the car, open the door, scan the equipment, ping it, and it uploads the data into the computer, and in less than a minute they are ready to roll. So if you multiply 15 minutes a day times all these officers, every day of the week, it is a massive time-saver.”

How RFID Works in Richardson PD

Richardson started its RFID project in September 2011 as part of a federal government-funded effort to ensure that uniforms didn’t end up in the hands of the bad guys. The project was quickly expanded to all police gear.

In short order, everything got a tag: weapons, cell phones, voice recorders, citation printers, radar units. Everything. Handguns and other items get a low-profile tag that measures just 1.77 inches by 0.22 inches and is just three-hundredths of an inch thick. Seamstresses sewed durable laundry tags on uniforms. More recently, the project was expanded to fixed asset management for all office and IT equipment.

In all, the department has more than 6,000 RFID tags, each with a unique serial number.

When officers get to work, they present an ID card that is scanned into the asset management solution, which tells a quartermaster each officer’s role and what gear should be assigned. All the gear is put on a “smart table,” which automatically reads the encoded items and assigns them to the officer. The reverse occurs when the items are turned back in.

In their patrol cars, officers can use Motorola handheld readers to conduct inventory counts of their gear. The counts, previously performed manually, are almost instant now. The readers automatically record and timestamp the counts. If any items are missing, an alert is automatically issued. Forty-four cars are now inventoried with the handheld readers, and Richardson is considering expanding its asset management solution to other departments.

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