Riot gear goes missing from a large city police department and a team of detectives is put on the case to track down both the missing equipment and the culprit. Sounds like the start of a movie plot, right? It wasn’t quite so entertaining when it happened to police officers in Victoria, British Columbia, who went public with the embarrassing news that the “culprit” was poor asset management. According to the report, a shotgun, tear gas, smoke canisters, protective vests and rubber bullets were among the items listed as missing, with the department declaring its uncertainty as to whether the equipment was stolen or simply misplaced.
Though not uncommon for police departments that remain tethered to “old school” asset tracking and inventory management, when such a scenario occurs, it creates an embarrassing situation at best and a dangerous one at worst. Firearms, ammunition and safety equipment are no small expense to city budgets, and losing track of them in such a way shows how easy it is to misplace equipment that could be dangerous in the wrong hands. Fortunately for Victoria’s police, an immediate upgrade to their inventory management system was put into place, but taxpayers still had to foot the bill for the lost equipment and the cost of paying the 10 detectives who were put on the case.
Cases like these demonstrate how important it is to implement fixed asset management, especially for law enforcement and other emergency responders, who must ultimately face the taxpayers when expensive and potentially lethal items are misplaced. Asset management software allows for close monitoring of weapons, gear, vehicles and other equipment through usage of RFID. Item movements can be closely tracked, enabling officers to pinpoint which individual last had possession of an item and where it was previously located. Beyond the ability to monitor a chain of custody, asset management software assists in depreciating costly assets, such as police and other emergency vehicles, and enables maintenance and status tracking, which provides police officers assurance that their equipment and vehicles have been serviced and are in working order.
Every night as we watch the news, the acts of our fire, police and emergency medical professionals are flashed across the screen in varying moments of heroism. Whether it’s chasing down a dangerous criminal, saving lives in an apartment fire or responding to the scene of an accident, first responders serve their cities by responding to or averting tragedies on a daily basis. Giving them access to the gear they need to keep themselves and others safe simply isn’t enough – providing them with the tools to track the location, maintenance and status of their equipment is just as necessary as arming them before they start their shifts.