Police technician has a better way to keep track of the contraband

Kathy Rogers collects guns, drugs and wads of $100 bills.

But Rogers, a property technician for the Clovis Police Department in Fresno County, Calif., had little idea of what was where in the evidence room until last year, when she bought a tracking system.

'We were holding on to evidence that's extremely old,' she said. 'It was impossible to do a complete inventory' from evidence descriptions handwritten on index cards.

After installing Tranquility tracking software from QueTel Corp. of Herndon, Va., Rogers can find out all about the confiscated goods with a hand scanner from Symbol Technologies Inc. of Holtsville, N.Y.

The custom tracking system uses a Microsoft SQL Server database. Rogers now can call up reports on, say, how many handguns on the shelves still have cases pending.

'When you're setting up a system, you have to define the business logic, and you have to create relationships among data fields,' QueTel president James Cleaveland said. 'You can quickly change it by adding fields.'

If the SQL Server database grows too large for one server, he said, Tranquility can split it between two or more servers.

Rogers said officers used to hand-write a description of whatever they confiscated on an index card. She would then enter the information from the card into SQL Server, but there was no link between the physical evidence and its database entry. If something was moved, it might be lost unless someone changed the location in the database.

Rogers now assigns a bar code and uses a mobile scanner to keep track of the goods. Eventually, she said, she'll modify the database so that the confiscating officer can enter all the information and assign the bar code.

'They don't give us a whole lot of room, so there's always a storage problem,' she said.

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