Setting Up a Tracking System for Your Police Department’s Hardware Inventory

No matter what county you serve, managing your department’s hardware inventory can be a nightmare if you don’t have an automated system to help you. Trying to track all of your forensic, technology, and traffic enforcement hardware by hand is virtually impossible. There are too many moving parts in all areas of your department for you to rely on old school methods.

But if you don’t have a system set up yet, don’t fret. If the system you’re currently using takes up too much time and prevents you and your squad from responding to resident calls, it’s time to update your methods.

Here are some of the basic steps you’ll need to take to create an efficient equipment tracking system.

Choose a Hardware Inventory Tracking Software

Before you can start setting up your database, you need to have a software program where your database can live. There's a wide variety of options available, so you’ll need to have some sort of idea in mind for what kinds of features you need.

Real-time information helps you see what’s happening as it’s happening instead of finding out later when a problem has potentially gotten much bigger.

Notifications are tied to that real-time information, and will give you a heads up when an issue occurs. That way you can respond immediately, instead of letting it fester.

Check-in/check-out procedures are what give you accurate, real-time data. And having this inventory software available on mobile is what makes real-time data transmission possible. When your officers and administrative staff can send in system updates on their phones, they’re less likely to put it off and forget.

Finally, software integrations are what allow your inventory software to interface with other systems. Integrations help prevent siloed data, which doesn’t travel between departments.

Tag All of Your Hardware

Once you have a digital home for your asset database, it’s time to put tracking tags on almost everything. You won’t need to tag each individual traffic cone, but you’ll want to tag expensive items that change hands frequently.

While this can feel like a daunting task at first, once all of your hardware is tagged, you won’t have to put in that sheer amount of work again. New equipment does need to get tagged, but it’ll never come in the same volume as when you’re first updating your system.

Update Inventory Records Thoroughly

The best way to update your inventory records is to do it while your team is tagging all of your hardware. It’s a necessary one-two step that can’t really be ignored. When your employees place the physical tag on each item, the next step is scanning that tag and updating the records attached to it. When you put in information as you’re scanning it, you don’t have to double back and can therefore save on time and effort.

Train Your Team on How to Use It

Now you’ve got all of your hardware tagged and your records are updated. They won’t stay this way if the rest of your officers and staff don’t understand check-in/check-out procedures, or stick to inventory management processes. Everyone who has access to your department’s hardware needs to get trained on keeping up with the asset management aspect of it.

These regular tasks don’t need to take a lot of time, especially once your hardware is tagged. For the most part, all they’ll need to do is scan a barcode and click a few buttons, and your records will stay up to date.

Set Up Notifications to Automate Your Workflow

Automatic notifications are one of the easiest ways to take work off of your plate. But you don’t want to be receiving so many notifications that you don’t have the chance to respond to any of them.

Personalize your notifications so you only receive daily reports and emergency notices or necessary maintenance alerts. That way, you can respond to a crisis as it’s happening, but not be swimming in check-out notices.

Setting up a tracking system for your county’s police department doesn’t have to be a huge ordeal. While it may seem like a lot of work upfront, that work is going to save you a lot of time and effort over and over again.


Mel Van De Graaff

Mel creates research driven content for companies in the health and wellness field, and specializes in creating action driven blog posts for Mental Health and Self Help topics as well as creating white papers and case studies.

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