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U.K. Police Use RFID to Secure Tasers

The Nottinghamshire Police Department has deployed RFID-enabled cabinets to track the condition and usage of Tasers, as well as ensure that only authorized officers can access them.
By Claire Swedberg
Aug 19, 2010To manage the rollout of Tasers for use by some of its 2,500 police officers, the U.K.'s Nottinghamshire Police Department (Notts Pol) has deployed RFID-enabled cabinets at four of its police stations. The cabinets are designed to ensure that only officers authorized to access the Tasers can actually do so. The system also maintains a record of which personnel uses the devices, as well as the condition the weapons are in and how often a specific officer has fired them.

Most British police do not carry firearms, and until recently, they were not permitted to carry Tasers either. Software firm JML Software Solutions already deployed an RFID-based system at Notts Pol's armory to track the usage of guns for select officers. An authorized special service officer who requires a gun can enter the armory through an RFID portal, which reads the ID number on that individual's identity card. As he or she exits the armory, the RFID number on a tag attached to the gun is also read, thereby linking the weapon with that particular officer. If the officer then fails to return the weapon, an alert can be issued to department officials.

An RFID tag is attached to each Taser.

Recent changes in British law allow police officers with the appropriate training to use Tasers. Notts Pol covers an area of 800 square miles, with a population of more than 1,000,000 people, in a combination of urban and rural areas. The department employs 2,500 uniform and plain-clothes officers, as well as 1,500 police support staff members to cover the area. At present, 160 officers carry Tasers while on duty.

"The problem for them was they don't have an armory for every police station," says Luis Ponte, JML's CEO, so it wasn't possible to track Taser use with an RFID-enabled portal at an armory entrance. Therefore, JML suggested an RFID solution to track the devices.

RFID-enabled cabinets were installed to track the condition and usage of Tasers, as well as restrict access.

The system, known as the Intelligent Drawer Armory System (iDAS), was developed with the assistance of RFIP Ltd., and employs RFID hardware provided by Tagsys.

Early this year, says Nigel Rippon, Notts Pol's systems administrator, it was decided that the police department "would train and equip all firearms officers in the use of Tasers, as well as 85 Specially Trained Units [STUs] comprising motorway patrol officers, territorial support groups, dog handlers, etc."

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