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First Look: The 21st Century Police ID Card

The Police Smart Card makes it easier for officers and the public to share critical information about incidents and police interactions.

David Griffith 2017 Headshot

The Police Smart Card features a QR code that people can scan to access information about the officer and the case that led to the interaction with the officer.The Police Smart Card features a QR code that people can scan to access information about the officer and the case that led to the interaction with the officer.

The police badge as a symbol of authority and identification is 19th century technology. The business card, another tool that officers use to communicate information to contacts, is 20th century technology. Jim Kinsey, CEO of Police Smart Card, says it’s time law enforcement officers started identifying themselves with 21st century technology.

Police Smart Card’s namesake product uses Near Field Communication (NFC)—the technology used by Apple Pay—and QR codes to send essential information about the officer and the incident to the contact’s phone. The card itself is a plastic ID card that can be worn in a clear flex holder. It shows the agency, the officer’s name, the officer’s rank, and the officer’s badge number. The contact can scan the QR code on the card or use NFC to capture that information and more on their phone. Some of the information the contact will receive is the incident report number if applicable, citation information if applicable, and the contact information for the officer.

Kinsey says one of the benefits of the Police Smart Card is that it replaces business cards for community interaction. “A citizen might lose a business card with your case number scribbled on it, but you are not going to lose your cellphone,” Kinsey explains.

Police Smart Card’s patent-pending technology offers many more features than just officer identification. Kinsey says the card promotes transparency, accountability, and positive validation—summed up by the acronym TAP. Officer contacts access the information through a web-based portal, no app is involved. One of the features of the portal is that it gives people who interacted with the officer the opportunity to leave comments about the experience.

Bad reviews are not seen by the officer unless there is a serious officer performance reason for them. “If it’s a real problem, then obviously the officer’s supervisor is going to talk to them about it,” Kinsey says. 

Good reviews can be seen by the officer as the “P” part of the company’s TAP acronym, “positive validation.” Kinsey says he believes seeing the public’s positive comments can boost officer morale and even reduce officer suicide. “They can come home from a long shift and read all the positive feedback,” he adds. “They can say, ‘Wow! I did a great job today.’ They can say, ‘This is why I became a law enforcement officer.’ And they can feel good about their profession.”

Boosting officer morale and improving community relations were the reasons the Police Smart Card was invented. Kinsey says its creator, Theo Gibbs, wanted to help police after witnessing all the anti-police sentiment and anti-police violence that followed the George Floyd in-custody death.

The prototype Police Smart Card needed a lot of refinement, according to Kinsey. “It took two years and 10,000 hours of labor to build the Police Smart Card into what it is today,” Kinsey says. The development time included building the CJIS-compliant database and the analytical tools that agencies can use to dig deep into the data supplied by the card.

Earlier this year, the Alpharetta (GA) Police Department agreed to run the first agencywide Police Smart Card pilot program. The program was extremely successful, so much so that Capt. Mike Stewart calls the card a “bridge” between the police and public. Alpharetta PD is also featured in a video on the Police Smart Card website. Kinsey says demonstrations of the Police Smart Card and information about the Alpharetta program has led to numerous to inquiries from dozens of agencies.

Police Smart Card is offered as a subscription service at an annual fee of $300 per officer.

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