Posts Tagged ‘customers’

Is your EM vendor ready for the future?

Wednesday, December 2nd, 2015

There are many components of an EM system your vendor can control, such as hardware functionality and reliability, but there are also some VERY important components completely out of your vendor’s control. And these aspects are vital to the operation of your monitoring devices: the cellular network and the GPS satellite array.

STOP’s Engineering Team spent the past year working to enhance the functionality of our primary GPS monitoring device and our enhanced RF monitoring device to make sure we were ready for the upcoming cellular network changes our equipment uses to report into our software.

You may not be aware that cellular carriers are in the process of shutting down their 2G networks, which is necessitated by the data demands of consumers. Because of the timely action taken internally, our equipment now communicates on 3G networks using a choice of GSM and CDMA cellular carriers. As we continue transitioning to the AT&T and Verizon networks, our partner agencies do not need to be concerned about the impending 2G cellular network shutdown. However, many EM equipment vendors have not made the transition and there is a real risk to agencies and their EM programs using those systems.

The GPS game has also changed. The U.S. is one of numerous other countries operating a GPS satellite array. Russia, China and European nations have developed or are developing their own GPS satellite arrays. And the U.S. is deploying the next generation of GPS satellites. Our equipment is ready to use all of these systems to enhance location acquisition and improve GPS accuracy.

BLUtag now has shock sensors, anti-jamming and jamming detection, Wi-Fi sniffing, shielding detection, and I can go on. What does your vendor’s EM system offer?

Journal of Offender Monitoring article authored by STOP employee

Thursday, June 5th, 2014

Dennis Doffing, national director of service provider sales, has been a guest poster for Utterback’s Utterings. He has also written articles for an industry publication, Journal of Offender Monitoring. The most recent issue of the JOM (Vol. 25, Number 2) includes an article Dennis wrote about our newest device, BLU+ (blue-plus). Click here to read the article. To learn more about the Journal of Offender Monitoring, click here. Thanks to Mark Peel, publisher, for permitting Satellite Tracking of People LLC to use the article on this blog.

2013 Training Institute: Intensive training for agents

Tuesday, October 22nd, 2013

I ve written before about the importance of training for an agency"s employees who will implement and operate a GPS monitoring program. A GPS device, no matter its capabilities, is a tool and agents must know how to use it properly to achieve an agency"s goals.

At STOP, one of our priorities is providing our customers with a range of resources so agents gain a comprehensive knowledge about how our hardware and software function individually and collectively. One resource is our annual Training Institute, which took place in Atlanta earlier this month.

More than 70 agencies and independent service providers were represented with the 137 agents. The attendees received 10 hours of training on our enrollee monitoring system. Our customers chose to attend three of the four breakout sessions.

  • VeriTracks: The Next Generation — Customers learned about the next generation of VeriTracks and its functionality.

    Attendees gather around our BLU+ blow-up at the end of the breakout session on our newest enrollee monitoring device.

  • BLU+: The RF Alternative — This year we introduced BLU+ (blu-plus), which is a new RF monitoring device with location capability, which allows supervising agents to confirm enrollees entered a designed location on time without the use of a mobile monitoring unit.
  • Witness Testimony Preparation — Supervising agents frequently provide courtroom testimony for enrollee violations. This session highlighted the information needed to articulate the basics of GPS technology in a courtroom setting. The agenda included reviewing commonly asked cross examination questions.
  • Talking With Elected Officials So They Listen — Elected official are frequently part of an agency"s stakeholder audience. This session provided tools to help agency directors and leaders have productive discussions with elected officials, as well as possible sources for alternative funding.

Franklin County, Ohio, award

We also recognized a few customers as having an outstanding GPS enrollee monitoring program. The awardees for 2013 are Charlevoix County Probation and Family Court (Michigan), Superior Court Social Services Division (District of Columbia), Dekalb County Sheriff’s Department (Illinois), Franklin County Municipal Court (Ohio), Tehama County Probation Department (California) and Tehama County Sheriff’s Department (California). We congratulate these and all of our customers on their enrollee monitoring programs that help maintain high levels of enrollee accountability and community safety.

Our customers returned home with new skills and information that will help them use our enrollee monitoring system more effectively so they can help keep their communities safe. For more information about the 2014 Training Institute, contact STOP at info@stopllc.com.

With your plan in place, train your team to carry it out

Monday, July 22nd, 2013

In my previous post, I talked about the importance for a GPS monitoring program to have effective policies and procedures in place before implementing the program. I discussed the need to use best practices, customize each program for a specific situation and keep the system as user friendly as possible.

Once these policies and procedures are established, it"s equally important to invest the necessary resources into training the supervising agents using the GPS monitoring system on a daily basis. Even the best GPS system is a tool and supervising agents using it need to know exactly how it works to consistently achieve an agency"s goals, including offender accountability and public safety.

With this mind, here are four keys to an effective training program:

Scheduling: Don t scrimp on the amount of time needed for sufficient training even if training does not involve new technology. We ve experienced situations where the program managers want all of the training to take place in a much-condensed timeframe. This means the trainees receive a high level training at best and can t really delve into deeper applications of the GPS monitoring system and how it can help your team in its daily work. It also means the team likely won t have time to discuss the rationale behind various policies and procedures.

Curriculum: While every vendor has a basic curriculum to teach supervising agents about its GPS monitoring system, it needs customization to reflect the policies and procedures of the agency to increase its effectiveness. Some agencies change policies and procedures in many small ways, especially when changing vendors for its GPS monitoring program. By combining training on the new system with changes in policies and procedures, your team can visualize how all the parts should work together.

Follow up training: Sometimes follow up training is needed if your team experiences difficulty with certain aspects of a new GPS monitoring system and/or policies and procedures. Follow up training can help smooth out these bumps. To recognize bumps, you and your vendor must work closely together during the first several weeks after initial training. Staying alert for trouble areas can be tracked through inquiries to the vendor"s technical support center and the types and number of event notifications supervising agents receive in their daily summary report.

Open learning environment: Encourage your team to keep asking questions when they arise during training sessions and afterwards. Cultivate an environment where colleagues look out for ways to help each other find solutions and feel they can access the vendor"s technical support center for additional help or explanation.

Effective training is a foundational element to the success of any program, whether it"s a GPS monitoring program, sales and marketing, accounts payable/receivable, etc. And effective training is a responsibility of both the vendor and you, the agency"s program manager. Working together to develop a curriculum reflecting the expectations of the agency"s leadership cannot happen without input from both parties. Working together, solid policies and procedures and a good training programs are key elements to a community supervision program that fulfills its goals and mission.

Equipment testing is important why?

Wednesday, April 3rd, 2013

A recent article in the Los Angeles Times prompted me to think about how agencies test (or don t test) equipment prior to contract execution.

The article chronicled the extensive testing an agency conducted on a recent procurement. Without the testing that was undertaken, the agency may have chosen the wrong device to meet its needs.

During a procurement process, it"s best to tailor your equipment testing and evaluations to match the ways in which the devices will actually be used. While national standards are being drafted today, they fail to meet the specific and individual needs of most agencies. The standards apply uniform criteria for hardware and software performance to all agencies and their target population(s). You can use these standards as a guide, but ideally you’ll create procurement specifications that will lead to the device best meeting your agency’s needs.

A few ways you might customize testing/evaluation:

What are the target population demographics? Research shows juveniles wait the longest to recharge their device, and often do not follow a charging schedule. A long battery life and long notification period to correct the situation are necessary for this population. When supervising high risk offenders GPS collection rate and download rates may be important.

Does your area have any unique geographic features? Receiving GPS signals may be affected by geographical features. When you test the devices, see how the unique aspects of your community, such as mountains, skyscrapers or parking garages, affect the device"s functionality. Does the vendor have options to assist with these situations?

How is the cell phone coverage in your area? The level of cell phone coverage in your area could impact a device"s performance. If this is a concern, test each device with this in mind. If you have limited cell phone coverage, an option such as our BLUhome unit merits consideration. What provider has the best cell phone coverage?

The factors to consider when designing your testing are varied and affected by numerous considerations. However, the long-term benefits of using an effective testing program in conjunction with cost considerations and written proposals to select a provider are worth the effort.

GPS technology is extremely effective when agencies respond appropriately

Monday, March 4th, 2013

A recent story published in the L.A. Times newspaper highlights the increase in the number of arrest warrants issued since October 2011 due to parolees removing their GPS monitoring device. The story states it"s easy for a parolee to cut off the device, but doing so triggers a notification to the supervising agent.

I feel the need to address this situation and provide more background on the straps used on GPS monitoring devices. I"ll start with our BLUtag device.

BLUtag

BLUtag and its strap

BLUtag, the most advanced, proven and reliable GPS monitoring device in the industry, is used throughout the state of California by many government agencies. It has monitored, tracked and reported the movements and violations of more sex offenders, gang members, high-profile offenders and repeat offenders than any other GPS device in the industry. Using this device allows these agencies to take immediate action when enrollees violate the terms of their supervision, including removing the device.

Supervising agents usually take immediate action when they receive a tamper notification. However, ambiguity in California laws regarding offender custody has impacted the ability of agencies to maintain the appropriate consequence for various types of violations.

No technology available today can prevent parolees, or any offender, from removing their monitoring device (GPS or RF) or committing other violations. The important functionality is for the device to immediately notify supervising agents to the violation so the required action can be taken.

BLUtag"s hypoallergenic, thermoplastic rubber strap securely keeps the device fastened around the enrollee"s ankle at all times. If an enrollee removes BLUtag, the device immediately reports the tamper event, so the assigned supervising agent can take the action required by the agency and the law.

Options

One manufacturer makes a strap for a GPS monitoring device marketed as more secure, which means it"s embedded with stainless steel cables or a strip of steel. Yes, the offender can t remove the device with standard medical scissors, but neither can medical personnel for medical emergencies or law enforcement officers when booking offenders into jail for a violation.

Removing this device requires tools, which aren t usually immediately available in emergency situations. If the offender experiences a medical emergency and loses a foot or part of the leg simply because medical personnel couldn t quickly remove the monitoring device, the agency is at risk for a lawsuit.

Additionally, the more secure strap has been known to be removed where it inserts into the device or it breaks off at the same point. This certainly creates a question about its level of security. This type of strap doesn t comply with the proposed National Institutes of Justice standards for Offender Tracking Systems.

Many solicitations specifically state the strap can t be embedded with steel cables or straps. The industry (supervising agencies and vendors/manufacturers) recognizes the critical need for a strap that securely fastens the monitoring device around the offender"s ankle. But the strap can t impair the ability of either medical or law enforcement personnel from removing it, especially in an emergency situation.

And I question whatever additional security it may provide. An offender can still remove the device with a steel-embedded strap and it doesn t matter to the offender if removing the device takes a few more seconds or a few more minutes. STOP has looked at adding a strap with embedded steel to our options, but ensuring that our device works as designed outweighs this option.

Current situation

The result of the situation described in the L.A. Times news story is appropriate consequences can t be applied to the deserving offenders due to a lack of clear law. GPS is a tool, and an extremely effective one when properly utilized. The article has more to do with need to change the law in order to have proper consequences for parolees violating the terms of their supervision.

The government agencies using our device are successful with other options for handling the removal of a device and maintaining public safety as well.

2011 will soon be over, welcome 2012!

Thursday, December 8th, 2011

2011 was a difficult year for most government agencies. Budgets were cut, long term employees were offered early retirement and released offenders struggled to find jobs making many resort to crime again.

However, there was some good news in 2011. Many correctional and supervision agencies were forced to rethink how they handle their huge prison populations. Most polls indicate citizens are tired of huge correctional budgets and cutting education funding to pay to incarcerate so many people. There is a mindset shift to finally deal with those offenders whom we are simply mad at in a different way than those whom we are "scare of.

We should continue to have strong laws protecting us from those offenders who would make it hard to relax in our community or sleep at night if they were roaming the streets. However, it’s time to recognize some offenders can be punished for their crime yet be rehabilitated and pay restitution to the victim or court and maintain or strengthen family connections.

At STOP, we ve been fortunate to help many agencies as they ve shifted their handling of offender populations. Many now use GPS as the effective supervision tool on all ranges of offenders. And when Automated Crime Scene Correlation is used, agencies have the most effective supervision tool available.

STOP added more than 100 agencies as new customers in 2011. These programs range from five-unit programs that had never used GPS or RF before to 1,500-unit programs using other electronic monitoring equipment. This was an amazing year and a test for our outstanding team members. I"m happy to say I d give them all an A (even without a curve).

2012 will be another great year for STOP. We re positioned to expand our portfolio of equipment, reimagine our software interface and add features and options not available in the industry today.

On behalf of STOP, I wish you a safe and happy holiday season!

2011 Training Institute Space City Success

Friday, October 7th, 2011
Satellite Tracking of People"s annual Training Institute just concluded in our hometown, Houston, a.k.a. "space City. More than 120 attendees from 67 agencies received advanced training on our monitoring system, heard about new developments with our software and hardware and shared suggestions with us so we can develop our road map for future activities.

My coworkers conducted training in subjects ranging from the basics of our software and services to utilizing evidence-based practices to increase funding and for program justification. While at the Training Institute, attendees also networked with each other and talked about how their programs operate and learned from the success of others.

I also had the opportunity to introduce a new product coming in 2012 and new strap attachments. This new device and attachment will make the coming year something great for STOP. I can t wait to talk more about them!

It was my hope the Training Institute attendees learned something new, enjoyed the views of Minute Maid Park and understood STOP"s commitment to their success and that of their agency. See you next year.

Tracking Success: more than our tagline

Thursday, September 23rd, 2010

Many of you may have noticed a new tagline for STOP, Tracking Success. The rollout of our tagline is an important step toward actively communicating our commitment to you, our customers, and your clients.

Tracking Success takes on many meanings for STOP. The obvious correlation is our products and how they provide the best tracking, which in turn creates higher levels of client accountability and community safety and, ultimately, resulting in successful programs. But our tagline also shows STOP’s commitment to the success of your clients. VeriTracks includes many functions that can help you effectively track clients and their successful completion of a monitoring or community supervision program.

Also, using GPS or RF monitoring has shown better compliance by clients, allowing for more success in their lives as well. We want to highlight these successes and show how our products and services make your people and programs successful. A major initiative for our 2010 Training Institute was the introduction of evidence-based practices using our products and services. This was only the fist step in showing participating agencies how to highlight their successes with GPS and RF monitoring.

Tracking Success and its correlations will take on a more prominent role in our communications with you. Our tagline is part of STOP employees email signatures, marketing materials, web site and most pieces distributed to current and future customers. Its prominence in our communications allows us to reinforce our commitment to success programs, customers and clients.

Training Institute: Successful Communication and Commaraderie

Thursday, September 2nd, 2010

Similar to the Company tag line, Tracking Success, our recent Training Institutes continued a track record of success perhaps more successful than in the past because of using a new format. Over 70 agencies gathered in San Diego, California, and Chicago, Illinois, to learn more about our products and services. And, most important to me, the attendees provided valuable feedback on our products and services, so can make sure they meet our customers’ needs.

During the day-and-a-half conference, I learned so much more about you, our customers, including how you use our systems and how STOP may meet all of your electronic monitoring needs. The sessions focusing on our future releases and the necessary specifics to ensure your own Tracking Success were insightful and provided STOP with a clearer road map for new and enhanced functionality.

I hope the new contacts you made with fellow colleagues and peers during our evening activities lead to a valuable resource for bouncing ideas off of, collaborating and problem solving. Of course our STOP staff members are available at anytime to discuss your programs, but I realize some of you need additional information from fellow agencies to better utilize our products and services.

Our staff members at the Institutes were energized and pleased with the outcome and look forward to following-up and implementing your suggestions in future products and service s. Please remember: we want to hear from you any time you have an issue or a comment. My phone number and email address are always available.