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Ultimate Guide to Law Enforcement Asset Management 

Strategies for managing police gear, weapons, keys, and evidence in police departments and sheriff's offices

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Executive Summary

Law enforcement agencies (LEAs) across North America face many challenges. One of the most common is managing the growing volume of equipment, weapons, and mobile devices LEA personnel need to do their jobs. 

Manual equipment management—or asset management—is time-consuming and inefficient. Given rising labor costs and shrinking budgets, it is no wonder many LEAs are looking for new, automated, more efficient methods for managing their physical assets. Many LEAs are looking to smart key and asset management systems as potential solutions to meet those challenges. 

  • Law enforcement asset management systems help LEAs reduce costs and boost operating efficiency 
  • They automatically alert staff of any issues, such as equipment not being returned or requiring repair
  • You avoid consumables such as PPE, protective gear, or medical supplies, running out of stock 
  • Smart police lockers ensure tracked assets are accounted for, available, and ready for use at all time 
  • They offer better accountability by utilizing error-free monitoring and logging 
  • They eliminate time-consuming paper-based tracking law enforcement inventory management

So what are smart management systems? How can law enforcement agencies use them to improve their police asset management? And how do they hold up in the real world? Our Ultimate Guide to Law Enforcement Asset Management explores those questions and more.

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Chapter 1

Smart Technology Automates Work and Generates Data

Smart technology originated in the 1990s as fault-monitoring technology in expensive computer systems. Self-Monitoring Analysis and Reporting Technology (SMART) sensors in computers could identify impending faults in mission-critical systems before they occurred. The SMART sensors would then shut down the computers before those minor faults snowballed into catastrophic failures. 

Those monitoring and automated response capabilities proved so effective that smart technology soon spread to other use cases. By the early 2000s, smart technology was everywhere in civilian and business technology. And now, if a piece of equipment or infrastructure can carry an onboard sensor and smart system, it probably does. 

This rapid growth and spread to consumer applications also evolved the definition of ‘smart technology.’  Today, smart tech usually means any system capable of monitoring itself, its attached components, or its environment. Those are powerful capabilities in law enforcement operations. 

Smart systems generate actionable data 

Beyond the immediate benefits of automated equipment management, smart systems also generate a large volume of data of interest to LEAs. For example, smart management systems can collect data on who accesses specific items, how often they’re signed out, how long they’re signed out, and when items are returned late. Collected over time, this data helps administrators identify performance trends they might be unable to collect if tracking equipment is used manually. 

That data can provide many valuable, actionable insights. For example, usage reports generated by law enforcement asset management systems can reveal opportunities to redistribute equipment across offices in your jurisdiction. Or inform future purchasing budgets. For example, is one bureau underutilizing PPE on their patrols? Is there another overutilizing? Collected manually, you might not see that until the next quarterly report. With smart technology, you’ll see it in real time and be able to immediately reallocate that PPE to better protect your officers. 

And just like that original SMART technology, you use modern smart asset monitoring to identify equipment failures, or more serious patterns, such as internal theft or drug diversion. You’re not just monitoring assets. You’re monitoring the people and the processes they interact with. 


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Chapter 2

Smart Asset Management System Components

Smart locker management systems are designed to manage law enforcement workflows and provide secure storage in various environments, including police stations, sheriff’s offices, and correctional facilities. They utilize a combination of different lockers and compartments, wireless sensors, and access control. In addition, the entire system is monitored from a secure web dashboard. 

Secure Storage Lockers 

Smart technology has many business use cases, but bare-metal lockers are at the heart of any smart asset management. They could come in several different form factors. Some are uniform, large-capacity lockers that can hold various pieces of equipment. Others comprise mix-and-match modular compartments you can customize to hold the exact combination of equipment you need. 

You can also configure asset lockers with sensors and other special features, such as integrated power and data ports for electronic devices. Advanced systems can include climate-controlled and refrigerated compartments for handling evidence, biological samples, or sensitive LEA assets, like narcotic painkillers in medical kits.

Smart Access Terminals  

Each locker includes an access control terminal outside where officers and other personnel authenticate themselves and interact with the management system. The management system can prompt users to specify the necessary assets so that only that compartment unlocks. You can also prompt them with checklists at signout or return, where you can collect information about the asset, like condition, power levels, consumable levels, or the duties they need it for.

Management Software  

Connecting everything is a software management dashboard. Senior personnel can monitor activity and update access permissions from any authorized computer or mobile device. You can monitor locker use from the software dashboard in real time, modify user access, review alerts, and generate reports according to whichever criteria you need. 


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Chapter 3

Smart Locker Systems are More Than the Sum of Their Parts

Conventional LEA storage lockers offer limited access control through padlocks, PIN pads, or combination locks. Any use tracking or other law enforcement asset management you want to perform must be done manually. So you can generate some useful data by tracking use, but it is very time-consuming. If you want to add automated intelligence, you need to add layers of technology. 

Add digital access controls  

We can add the first layer of intelligence by upgrading access controls to more advanced digital systems such as RFID fobs, swipe cards, and biometrics. Mechanical controls are strong in their simplicity, but if you rely on hard keys and PIN codes, anyone who has that token has equal access. Fobs, cards, and biometrics offer increasingly granular accountability over who can access which assets. 

Content surveillance increases accountability   

Smart police lockers are defined by the data they can gather and analyze about stored assets. One of the most powerful methods for gathering data is through content surveillance sensors. These are wired or wireless RFID sensors built right into the lockers. They identify when personnel take or return items, so you always have full knowledge and accountability of who has which assets. 

They also work well in large-capacity lockers, so you can store multiple items in the same compartment and still know when each individual is removed. The same holds for kit components. RFID signals pass through hard plastic, so scanners can check multiple kit components simultaneously to see whether any items are missing. 

Workflow support unifies law enforcement asset management   

Advanced touchscreen access terminals allow you to manage more than just access. You can add checklists and feedback forms to interact with law enforcement personnel when they sign assets in or out. For example, you could ask them to log faults or calibration problems when they sign back equipment. 

Does a long gun need servicing after a tactical assignment? Your officers can notify technicians at the terminal, and the locker will lock the gun down until one can pull it for servicing. 

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Chapter 4

How Smart Management Systems Improve Law Enforcement

So law enforcement smart lockers offer a range of technical capabilities for police property management not available using conventional lockers. But more features don’t necessarily mean more efficiency. Or more cost-effectiveness. Technology is only cost-effective if it solves more problems for your organization. 


So how do smart lockers improve law enforcement operating efficiency?

  1. 24/7 Access 

    Smart lockers never fatigue, never need to call out sick, and can work every shift around the clock. They virtually eliminate human errors from your record keeping. They can handle evidence and equipment transactions on second and third shifts without officers needing to wait for a manager to be on duty to receive items.

    And when those personnel are on duty, they can do fewer manual tasks. For example, smart lockers handle all the minutiae of asset tracking around the clock. That means redirecting equipment managers to more productive work without reducing equipment availability.

  2. Comprehensive reporting

    Smart lockers track and record every interaction your law enforcement personnel have with them. You can generate reports based on whatever criteria you need—for productivity tracking, regulatory compliance, budgetary reporting, whatever you need.

  3. Improved productivity

    Smart lockers automate many tedious administrative tasks that consume your armory and inventory managers’ days. Equipment transactions are faster, too, typically done in seconds, in and out. Locker workflow support through checklists and queries at transaction points also streamlines other operations. For example, how you notify technicians that electronics or firearms need calibration. Automated reporting identifies problems before they impact your officers’ readiness.

  4. Enhanced access control

    Smart lockers give you granular control over which officers and other law enforcement personnel can access specific assets, when they can access them, and how long they are allowed to have them signed out. For example, you can set alerts so you know when officers are overdue to return specialized firearms after a call.

  5. Lifecycle asset tracking

    Smart armory lockers' data-gathering capabilities allow you to track every detail of an asset’s lifecycle in your organization—from “the cradle to the grave.” As a result, you’ll develop a complete picture of every interaction involving equipment, firearms, and electronic devices from the moment they enter your organization until they are retired.

    Smart lockers also include tools to help you maximize the lifespan of your expensive and mission-critical equipment. For example, you can build charging and data connections into locker compartments, so two-way radios, laptops, and other hardened electronic devices are always ready. You can also preserve digital evidence and assets in climate-controlled, ventilated, or refrigerated compartments to ensure they stay viable as long as possible.

  6. Better accountability

    Because every transaction is logged in real-time, senior officers, armory management staff, equipment managers, and law enforcement leadership get instant insight into how your law enforcement assets are used and when problems arise.

  7. New operational insights

    Switching from manual to smart law enforcement asset management means you get insights into more law enforcement operations in real time. You can also discover patterns in equipment and firearm use you might not have noticed without the help of data-gathering tools, like checklists from access panels and content surveillance.

  8. Workforce enablement

    Workforce enablement’ is a concept borrowed from business productivity that has made waves in law enforcement in recent years. Workforce enablement aims to make your officers more effective by making them more self-sufficient at their jobs. It is the opposite of micromanagement

    To enable your workforce, you must find ways to get them the resources they need quickly and efficiently. Smart lockers are an obvious tool to achieve that goal. They automate transactions around the clock, so law enforcement personnel never depend on specific individuals to get the needed gear. All without compromising security.

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Chapter 5

Smart Asset System Use Cases in Law Enforcement

Law enforcement agencies can get a great deal done using smart asset and key management technology. These smart systems have many possible applications in law enforcement, including: 

Police gear storage 

Smart lockers are excellent tools for managing all of your police gear. Their rugged steel frames and doors are sturdy enough to prevent forced entry attempts when lockers are in locations accessible to civilians. In addition, the smart terminal authorizes and logs all access attempts for superior security and accountability.   

You can configure different-sized storage compartments in any combination. For example, specialized long gun compartments are available for tactical units. In addition, you can equip smaller compartments with charging ports for all of your officers’ powered devices, like body cams, laptops, 2-way radios, and handheld electronics.  

Tracking and content surveillance tools help you keep tabs on your sensitive equipment. For example, specialized scales can tell if someone discharged an OC spray canister. In addition, RFID tag tracking can verify the contents of LTL weapons kits, radar, and LIDAR kits, duty bags, and even individually tagged narcotics vials inside medkits.  

Fleet key management 

Smart key management systems provide better control over your vehicle, equipment, and facility keys. For example, you can control who can sign out patrol cars, allow personnel to reserve certain vehicles from your motor pool for special duties, like surveillance, and rotate vehicle sign-outs to distribute wear and tear across your entire fleet. 

Officers can’t pick their favorite vehicles every time, racking up miles on just a few select vehicles while the rest depreciate with no use. So instead, the smart management system rotates vehicles based on your criteria. 

Evidence management 

One of the most critical duties in law enforcement is police evidence management. Prosecutions and exonerations suffer if you can't demonstrate proper evidence chain of custody or lose evidence. Smart law enforcement asset management systems automatically log all evidence transactions, so you always have a complete custody record you can access anytime.

Because transactions are securely automated, smart lockers allow law enforcement personnel to deposit evidence after hours securely. When evidence managers are off-duty, second and third-shift personnel can still sign out the evidence for analysis or investigative work without compromising the chain of custody. In addition, your managers can generate audit and compliance reports instantly right from evidence storage cabinets.

Climate-controlled storage 

Climate-controlled storage is more needed than ever before. Sworn officers need a wide variety of electronic devices to do their job. These devices require proper ventilation and storage temperatures to function at full capacity. You'll also need to maintain a range of temperature-sensitive evidence, including biological specimens like rape kits and DNA samples. 

You must protect electronic devices holding valuable digital evidence as well. Those require proper ventilation, cooling, and humidity control to remain viable.

(Video) Keep track of assets and keys with solutions tailored for law enforcement.

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Chapter 6

Case Study — Law Enforcement Smart Key Management

Let’s consider a real-world use case for smart management systems in law enforcement: key management. Arkansas's Garland County Sheriff’s Office and Detention Center implemented a KeyTracer system that transformed their operations. Let’s explore how in this case study. 

Smart key management makes Garland County sheriffs more effective in their work   

Before implementing a smart key management system, Garland County’s Sheriff’s Office and Detention Center deputies would report to work and obtain keys in a locked key box behind the old booking desk. The key to this box was on a keyring hung beside the supervisor’s desk. In addition, the facility used paper logs to record keys issued and returned. 

Chief Mark Chamberlain at Garland County Sheriff’s Office said of their old, manual processes, “Paper key log completion was sporadic at best. This system wasn’t reliable and resulted in major issues. There was no accountability for lost or misplaced keys. It was very easy for staff to take keys home accidentally. And staff often were spending their time hunting down keys all over the facility.

I recognized that it was time to move to a better system, and having used Real Time Networks’ KeyTracer system in the past, I knew it would be an excellent solution for the Garland County Detention Center.

- Chief Mark Chamberlain

Upgrading to KeyTracer automation  

Chief Chamberlain describes Garland County’s move to an electronic key management system. “Real Time Networks was our vendor of choice for their KeyTracer smart lockers because of their proven ease of use from my previous experience with the system. KeyTracer systems provide real-time accountability for all security, emergency, and vehicle keys and allow us to control access to keys for use by certain ranks and assignments. For instance, Food Service and Medical staff cannot check out security-related keys. 

We’ve placed nearly all operational keys into our electronic key cabinets. Supervisors no longer have to issue and track keys, complete logs and worry if and when keys are returned. Moreover, the biometric reader prevents staff from signing keys out under a different name. It forces staff to physically be present at the terminal to sign out a set of keys.

- Chief Mark Chamberlain

Benefits beyond accountability 

Garland County Chief Mark Chamberlain believes that the move to an automated system was beneficial for the facility and personnel at the Garland County Detention Center. “There’s no comparison between a KeyTracer system, paper sign-out logs, or other key issuance methods. Determining who can check out what keys enhances facility security by not relying on a staff member to issue and track key exchanges. KeyTracer tracks this information in real time and is not subject to human error or oversight.

At the start of every shift, a report is generated to ensure that keys were returned from the previous shift. Before, if someone did not return their keys, they could not tell which keys were missing and who had them. Now supervisors can check the status of all keys from their workstations or offices. Security is enhanced by knowing what key rings are checked out and by whom at any given time.

Our original plans called for the Control Room Deputy to issue and track keys. Upon our purchase of the KeyTracer system, this plan went away, and that deputy can now pay full attention to operating the control room and monitoring the facility’s 270 cameras and focus on the primary mission of staff safety and the facility's overall security.

- Chief Mark Chamberlain

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Chapter 7

Four-Step Process for Evaluating Law Enforcement Smart Management Systems

Smart management systems may be complex technology, but evaluating which best fits your LEA’s needs is straightforward. Here are four steps any agency can follow to identify the best smart law enforcement asset management system for your needs. 

  1. Set your management objectives 

    Decision-makers must agree on the objectives of upgrading to automated law enforcement equipment management. For example, are you looking to prevent equipment losses? Do you need real-time tracking of firearms? Do you need to enable more efficient day-to-day operations? Or how about better equipment handling for compliance?

    Decide what you want day-to-day operations to look like after you’ve installed a new smart management system. For example, how will workflows change for your equipment manager? How about for your officers and other regular users of the system?

  2. See what data systems can gather 

    One of the primary benefits of using smart weapons lockers is that the data they collect can provide valuable operational insights. One of the first things to compare across the systems you’re considering is the data-gathering capabilities of each. At a bare minimum, you want to ensure each system can track the following:

    1. Serial numbers
    2. Asset vendors
    3. Purchase dates
    4. Funding sources, including Federal award identification numbers (FAINs)
    5. Storage locations
    6. Use and condition of assets
    7. Decommissioning data, such as dates of disposal and sale prices
  3. Look for systems that balance usability and security 

    If a smart management system locks down equipment so securely that it becomes difficult for staff to access it, is the system better than a manual tracking process? Evaluate how usable each locker system on your shortlist will be given how your particular agency runs. 

  4. Evaluate service and support 

    You’re purchasing more than just a piece of hardware for your LEA. Smart management systems are living technology that must be updated and maintained over their lifecycle. You’ll need to identify a provider ready to work with your agency for many years in a collaborative public-private partnership.

    Adaptable systems will always require a degree of ongoing support. Ask different providers whether they can offer:

    1. Software customization
    2. Integration with existing systems
    3. Tailored tracking system rollouts
    4. Personalized training
    5. Ongoing support
    6. Ongoing software updates and upgrades

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Chapter 8

Take the Next Step to Enhance Your Law Enforcement Operations

Using law enforcement asset management systems can save your law enforcement agency money, increase asset intelligence, and deter security threats.

Manage your police gear, weapons, evidence, and fleet keys smarter in real time.
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Ultimate Guide to Law Enforcement Asset Management

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