Keeping our Protectors Protected With Asset Management

Male police officer (20s) standing outdoors, reaching for radio. Police car in background.

The agenda for a recent city council meeting in Plano, TX included a resolution authorizing $362,246 in spending on helmets, plate carriers, and rifle-rated hard armor plates for the Plano Police Department. In Oxford, Al, the city recently approved $218,000 in spending for a Lenco Bearcat G-2 armored rescue vehicle and a Mobile Operations Vehicle. Policing is a difficult and dangerous job, and in America, the past few years, it has become even more dangerous to serve and protect our communities.  It also makes asset management even more important.

“Officers killed by gunfire is up around 75 percent this year. This equipment is something we have been looking at purchasing for awhile now but wanted to get the best product for the money,” said David Tilley, public information officer for Plano Police Department. “Once the equipment is dispersed, training will follow.”

The new equipment in Oxford will help keep officers safe and could be invaluable in a natural disaster. Chief Bill Partridge of the Oxford Police Department explained, “This vehicle will provide mobile armor to keep our officers safe, and to rescue downed officers and citizens in shooting events,” he added, “It will also be extremely important during a man made or natural disaster in facilitating the continuity of government and public safety operations.”

Tracking Specialized Equipment

Police departments, emergency teams, fire fighters, and even private security firms need specialized and valuable equipment to do their job. And while some of these are big ticket items like mobile command centers, emergency rescue vehicles, and fire trucks, many smaller items are also crucial to safety and success. Armored vests, laptop computers and mobile devices, and many other kinds of equipment are important elements of our first responders’ toolkits.

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Making sure emergency personnel have what they need when they need it isn’t about the bottom line, it is about the safety of responders and the people and communities they serve. However, asset loss can trouble even the most effective and committed departments. In 2014, an investigative report by Fusion found that 184 state and local police departments were suspended from the Pentagon’s “1033 Program” (which gives local police departments military surplus equipment) because they were found to be missing weapons or failing to comply with the program guidelines.

The Huntington Beach Police Department was suspended from the program after losing an M16 assault rifle. “It was discovered during an internal audit,” Huntington Beach Police Lieutenant Mitchell O’Brien explained to Fusion. “An investigation was inconclusive as to how that occurred.”


Related Article: Extinguishing Asset Management Emergencies For Volunteer Firefighters

Critics of the program to disburse military equipment to local police aren’t sure many police departments are equipped to handle the new inventory.

“The case for giving military weaponry to these small police departments was already thin in the beginning,” Tim Lynch, director of the CATO Institute’s project on criminal justice said. “Now that we’re finding that there is insufficient accountability for tracking this equipment, then the case is beginning to fall apart.”

However, police departments and other emergency responders do require special equipment and it is critical that they know where it is. To effectively manage their assets, police departments, city governments, and other agencies need to have effective asset management systems in place and use the latest technology and best practices.

Following a few simple steps and some industry best practices, police departments and other agencies can easily keep track of all their assets to reduce loss and theft and to ensure needed equipment is always where it needs to be.

Policeman working on computer in car

City of Dallas and Asset Management

The City of Dallas’ Department of Intergovernmental Services has been recognized for its best in class approach to asset management. The department has to keep track of over $15 million in assets and part of its responsibilities include monitoring the city’s Office of Emergency Management and police, fire, IT and water departments.

For years Dallas was using a manual system that used static spreadsheets to store data, but that proved ineffective, time-consuming, and dangerous because of the risk of theft and loss.

How Does the City of Dallas Use Asset Management Software?

Dina Colarossi, fund analyst for the Intergovernmental Services Department explained that even when they brought in outside auditors for help, there were issues because the old approach didn’t meet the auditor’s standards.

“We would get a spreadsheet back that said everything is accounted for, but the issue the external auditors told us existed was that there was no record of who has seen that item and when they had seen that item,” Colarossi said.

To fix the problem and improve their asset management, Colarossi took some advice from Dallas’s Urban Search and Rescue Logistics Lieutenant, Ray Thomason who had been using Wasp Mobile Asset to track his unit’s assets. “Lieutenant Thomason found the Wasp solution to be a valuable tool to track his unit’s assets. He proposed adopting an automated asset tracking system from Wasp to track the department’s grant funded assets,” explained Colarossi.

The result of of implementing the system have been profound for Colarossi and her team. “Since deploying Wasp’s solution, there has been a huge change in the way we track our assets,” stated Colarossi. “Having a centralized database with all our assets means we no longer have to compare inventory lists to purchasing records to make sure we are catching every item. It also helps to ensure there is continuity as people are promoted or move on to other assignments.”

Implementing an effective asset management system is the safest and smartest way to keep our protectors protected. And it can all be done by following the same best practices that helped the city of Dallas get a handle and keep a handle on its more than $15 million in assets.

Asset Management Best Practices for Emergency Response Units:

  • Barcode your assets for easy identification.
  • Put in place a centralized, real-time asset tracking system.
  • Use barcode scanners to automate data entry and avoid human error.
  • Ensure your system has customizable record keeping settings and reporting tools so you can create the reports you need.
  • Find a system that can scale and grow as your organization and its needs evolve.

How could a dedicated asset management system help your company to track valuable company assets?

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Brad Vinson

Brad Vinson

Product Marketing Manager at Wasp Barcode Technologies
Brad Vinson is a Product Marketing Manager at Wasp, responsible for development and execution of the MobileAsset solutions.
Brad Vinson
Brad Vinson