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RFID Gives Richardson, Tex., Officers More Time for Police Work

The department has been using GlobeRanger's GR-AWARE software to track weapons and electronic equipment fitted with Xerafy RFID tags.
By Beth Bacheldor

At the Richardson Police Department's quartermaster station, each officer reports in to collect and return his or her uniform and equipment when a shift starts and ends. GlobeRanger developed a smart table that includes an Impinj Speedway Revolution R420 interrogator. Upon arriving at the quartermaster station, an officer presents his or her ID card, which is read by an HF reader, and that information is then recorded in the system. The employee information pops up on the computer screen, indicating the officer's role and what gear he or she is supposed to have. This information is all culled from the HR system integrated with the GR-AWARE software. The quartermaster pulls the items from inventory and places them on the smart table, which automatically reads the unique ID encoded to each item's tag. The tag information then populates the system and is displayed on the screen, and a checkout confirmation number is created and also displayed. The reverse occurs when an officer returns gear.

Patrol officers also use five Motorola Solutions MC 3190-Z RFID handheld readers to conduct inventory counts of the equipment within their cars. The patrol officers previously had to manually perform these inventory processes for their cars—documenting the serial numbers of each shotgun, radar unit and other equipment—by writing all of the information down and manually entering it into a system. It could take up to 15 minutes to complete this task, and it had to be done at the beginning and end of each patrol officer's shift.

Richardson Police Chief Jimmy Spivey

The Motorola reader automatically identifies all assets within the vehicle, recording their serial numbers along with a time and date stamp of the transaction. The device automatically issues an alert in the event that any assets that are supposed to be in the vehicle are discovered to be missing. The data is uploaded to the GR-AWARE software, thereby updating the chain-of-custody record to track which officer last had each specific piece of equipment. There are 44 vehicles currently inventoried using the RFID system. The handhelds can also be used to find items; for example, the department can perform a sweep of the locker room to locate a missing asset.

During a presentation to the Richardson City Council, Police Chief Jimmy Spivey told council members, "The biggest bang for our buck—not just from a homeland security point of view—is knowing where these police uniforms are. But 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. 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." Spivey will present a case study discussing his department's RFID implementation at RFID Journal LIVE! 2013, being held from Apr. 30 to May 2 at the Orange County Convention Center, in Orlando, Fla.

Additionally, the department is using RFID to track and inventory all of the equipment within its mobile command center— a trailer that the RPD can set up to provide law-enforcement services at disaster sites, special events and crime scenes. According to Pearson, the department is utilizing a laptop-based inventory application and a Bluetooth-enabled RFID reader provided by GAO RFID.

GlobeRanger estimates that the police department is saving about $9,000 per car annually, due to reduced labor costs and improved efficiencies, the RFID system is also helping the department save money thanks to more accurate inventory. Because the GR-AWARE software is integrated with the police department's HR and employee ID systems, if a personnel change requires an officer to return certain equipment, automated e-mails are sent monthly to that individual, as well as to the quartermaster and the officer's supervisor, until the equipment is returned. "With a better picture of where equipment is, the department is ordering less equipment," Pearson notes, adding that the city of Richardson is now interested in expanding the RFID asset-tracking system's use to other agencies as well.

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