Orange County, FL: GPS Monitoring On The Job
Each day, judges in Orange County, FL are faced with the difficult task of deciding what to do with those accused of violent crimes while they await trial. As of April 2, their option to include GPS tracking of these criminals was taken away, making this job even tougher.
But why did it happen in the first place? The company put in charge of monitoring the GPS bracelets chose not to notify authorities that Apopka’s Wilfred Gregory had removed his bracelet. Because of this, Gregory was able to shoot a man, and police were notified six hours later that he had removed his GPS tracking bracelet.
Although a judge suspended the GPS tracking program, the program is under review. The problem: roughly 50 violent offenders were released to the public with nothing tracking their activities.
Orange County Public Safety Director Linda Weinberg said, “So the thought was to have some of these cases reviewed by the judges, and if the judges felt it appropriate, could also add the component for GPS.” She called it a “stopgap measure,” adding a degree of protection for the public.
There are those detractors, like Rafael Zaldivar, the man whose son was killed: “It’s a flawed program. It’s a program that’s failing nationwide. It’s one of the programs that failed my son.”
Bessman Okafor killed his son, Alex Zaldivar, while on house arrest awaiting trial for a home invasion case.
Zaldivar hopes the courts take stronger action on these violent offenders. “I’d rather see them microchipped. Why not?” He also thinks the more violent offenders would do best in jail until their trial date.
It seems the county has contracted with 3M to provide electronic monitoring services, but people question the wisdom of this decision. “I just can’t believe this department didn’t know about this. and they don’t do a background check on them? They don’t check their resumes,” said Zaldivar.
He’s referencing the fact California called 3M’s GPS tracking bracelets “inaccurate” and “unreliable,” stating the alerts regarding tampering failed.
So why did Orange County choose these devices? Steve Triggs, a spokesman for the county, said, “We’re using 3M because we were able to piggyback on the Florida Department of Corrections contract. They have had no issues with 3M. 3M also does GPS all over the US and in 25 other nations. I can’t speak for the situation in California other than to say that they may not have been using the latest GPS technology.”
Orange County has an outside consulting firm investigating their home confinement and GPs programs. The results should be available at some point this month.