RFID Enables More Secure & Efficient Police Work

April 17, 2013 Kristen Hess

RFID Enables More Secure & Efficient Police Work

The Richardson Police Department (RPD) of Texas is currently using an RFID-enabled asset-tracking solution to verify that all uniforms and squad car equipment are in place at the start and end of each shift.

The RPD began using RFID in September 2011, as part of a U.S. Department of Homeland Security-funded initiative to track uniforms to ensure that they do not end up in the wrong hands. The Richardson Police Department realized that it made sense to expand the initiative to track all police gear. For assistance with this project, RPD turned to RFID solution developer GlobeRanger, who helped the police department find the best tags for its application.

GlobeRanger used washable UHF RFID laundry tags on uniforms, and chose to tag other RPD assets with a variety of Xerafy UHF EPC Gen 2 tags, due to their superior read-on-metal capabilities. The Titanium Metal Skin RFID label powered by Impinj’s Monza 5 chip proved ideal for tracking handguns and other metallic items requiring discreet tags, due to its small size (1.77 x 0.22 x 0.03 in.), 128 bits of user memory, and ability to be printed with a barcode or readable text.

How It Works
Each officer reports to the RPD quartermaster station to collect and return his or her uniform and equipment at the start and end of each shift. When the officer presents his or her ID card, it is read by an HF reader. The employee’s information then pops up on a computer screen, displaying the person’s role and necessary gear. The quartermaster then pulls the listed items from inventory and places them on a GlobeRanger smart table, powered by an Impinj Speedway Revolution reader. The smart table automatically reads the unique ID encoded to each item’s tag, and updates the data in the computer to show that those items have been checked out by that employee. When an officer returns from a shift, he or she again places the items on the smart table, the Speedway reader reads the tags, the inventory is automatically updated via Globeranger’s GR-AWARE PD software, and the quartermaster returns them to storage.

Patrol officers also use Motorola handhelds powered by Impinj Indy RFID reader chips to take inventory of the equipment within their cars. The data from the readers is automatically uploaded to the GR-AWARE software, updating the chain-of-custody record to track which officer last had each specific piece of equipment. Previously these inventory processes, which included documenting the serial numbers of each piece of equipment manually, took a total of 30 minutes per shift—now they are done automatically.

The system has reduced inventory time by 30 minutes per shift—time that policemen can now use to patrol the streets. The system is also saving the department an estimated $9,000 per car per year in terms of labor costs and improved efficiencies. Additionally and perhaps most importantly, the police department uniforms and assets are accurately tracked and stored, preventing potentially dangerous misuse of RPD assets, and making the city of Richardson a little bit safer.

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