Posts Tagged ‘manage violations’

2015 Training Institute: New format still produces great success

Saturday, October 10th, 2015

Satellite Tracking of People LLC hosted its 9th Training Institute in Denver, Colorado. The format of the Institute changed slightly this year based on attendee feedback from previous Institutes.

Eighty-eight people were invited to attend, representing 43 partner agencies. This year attendees arrived the afternoon prior to the first day of the conference. They were entertained through dinner with the start of an online game that lasted through the Institute. The first day of the conference was a full day of interactive learning and discussion sessions.

I introduced STOP"s focus for 2016: Informatics. STOP currently has three tent-pole components of Informatics and will expand on them throughout next year. The three main components are:

Timeline This is an easy to read graphical representation of an enrollee"s activities, which can be reviewed daily, weekly or monthly. Within a given time increment, the enrollees are highlighted allowing the supervising agent/officer to quickly look for patterns or areas of concern.

Associations This feature shows enrollees who are together at the same location during the same period of time. Many agencies prohibit their enrollees from being in contact with each other. If any enrollees are at the same location during any given timeframe, an icon displays on the Visit for each of the enrollees. Supervising agents/officers simply click on the icon and immediately know the identity of each enrollee at the location and their arrival/departure time.

Crime Scene Correlation STOP developed crime scene correlation more than 10 years ago and we enhance its functionality annually. This year"s addition was the ability to do a spatial query over a designated geographic region. No address is necessary to determine if an enrollee was near the scene of a crime or near and area where a suspected incident occurred.

During the Institute, attendees received 10 hours of training that is not available anytime outside of the event. The discussion-driven courses were interactive and participatory to increase attendee involvement."sTOP also gained valuable suggestions to improve our products and services by the attendees.

The 2016 Training Institute is tentatively planned to be in San Diego, California in September or October. We have a lot to live up to the expectations set by our previous Institutes, but we look forward to showcasing STOP again next year.

Fed. Probation Reform Act: Supports GPS Monitoring Programs

Friday, December 13th, 2013

U.S. Rep. Dan Maffei from New York State is proposing legislation to hold federal probationers accountable for tampering with electronic monitoring devices. Maffei introduced the Federal Probation System Reform Act hoping to prevent another incident like the one involving David Renz in Syracuse from happening again.

In March 2013, Renz removed an electronic monitoring device from his leg, raped a 10-year old girl and killed her mother. Maffei believes if his proposed legislation had been in place in March, it may have prevented the tragedy.

This critical legislation provides a heightened level of accountability for parolees, probationers and pretrial defendants who attempt to circumvent their supervision guidelines. Even a well-run program can be rendered powerless when supervision violations result in minimal negative consequences. Maffei"s proposed reform calls for stronger discipline to deter supervision violations.

According to Maffei"s proposed legislation, a probationer who tampers with an electronic monitoring device can receive up to one year in prison. A probationer who commits an additional crime after tampering with his/her device can receive a sentence of up to four years of incarceration on top of the punishment for the additional crime.

Provisions of the Federal Probation System Reform Act also strengthen the support given to the nation"s parole system. Maffei"s legislation calls for the appointment of an Inspector General to oversee all Federal Parole, Probation and Pretrial Services offices. Further, the bill establishes a nationwide policy for responding to alerts caused by tampering with electronic monitoring devices.

This bill would give much needed assistance to federal community supervision programs. It is an uphill battle to maintain control over probationers, parolees pretrial defendants when there are no substantial consequences for their failure to cooperate. The Federal System Reform Act is a positive step towards providing those consequences.

Establishing solid policy and procedures: first step to an effective monitoring program

Friday, June 28th, 2013

While public perception may be correctional agencies can provide needed offender supervision simply by putting GPS or RF monitoring devices on these individuals, but the reality is much more complex. Even the best devices are simply tools. Agencies use these tools in a strategic manner to help carry out its mission and achieve its goals, which include offender accountability and public safety.

In the next couple of posts, I"ll discuss two of the most important ingredients to help an agency to operate an efficient EM monitoring program: policy and procedures and training.

Like any other tool, a GPS or RF monitoring system must be used within the framework of well-designed policies and procedures to guide the daily use of it. Critical questions, such as how supervising agents are to respond to each type of event, needs to be addressed in detail long before the system is activated. As each agency is unique, each agency"s protocols will reflect its mission and goals, however, some general guidelines should be kept in mind.

Use best practices: No need to reinvent the wheel. Data exists to provide guidance on what types of procedures work most effectively. This data can be used to establish solid starting points for creating protocols. Agencies can share effective practices with each other and discuss how they worked through various events. APPA, NIJ, ICCA and ACA are good resources to consider. And if agencies are looking at best practices, evidence-based practices should be introduced wherever possible so data can guide the program as well.

One size doesn t fit all: Each agency knows its own jurisdiction, population(s), mission and goals best. After using available data, reports and evidence-based practices to develop and/or updating basic policies and procedures, they need some level of customization to meet the agency"s needs. Gathering input and feedback from a broad collection of stakeholders is beneficial.

Keep it effective, but not cumbersome: An effective policy that is not burdensome to those who must follow it is a difficult but achievable goal. Agencies need to implement effective policies and procedures that include the use of and access to appropriate tools, such as RF or GPS monitoring devices, without being onerous to the agents carrying out the policies.

Once solid policies and detailed procedures are in place, training is the next step, which I"ll discuss in my next post.

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.

GPS technology isn t just for enrollees considered high risk

Tuesday, February 26th, 2013

GPS monitoring equipment is a viable supervision tool for enrollees with any risk level, which is demonstrated in a recent incident involving a juvenile in Marion County, Indiana. Even though the juvenile suspected of participating in a two-county crime spree was on electronic monitoring, it was RF technology. It is designed to report only when an enrollee is home and when he/she leaves. Marion County has four GPS monitoring devices that are reserved for juveniles classified as high risk.

So, here"s a juvenile not classified as high risk, yet he"s a suspect in fives crimes committed in two counties. Based on his curfew schedule, he left home on time in the morning. This didn t generate any kind of notification because he was complying with his supervision requirements. However, what the juvenile"s probation officer didn t know until much later was the juvenile never arrived at a school and became a suspect in several crimes.

Generally when enrollees are placed on RF monitoring, the supervising agent must drive around the jurisdiction at various times of the day and night with a mobile monitoring unit to confirm the enrollee is at the location he"s required to be at that time, such as school, work or home.

As the news story points out, staffing shortages hamper the Marion County Juvenile Probation Department"s ability to keep tabs on juveniles 24 hours a day. Additionally, the story points out some juveniles think nothing will happen if they violate their supervision requirements because they re not monitored all day every day.

BLUtag GPS Monitoring Device

GPS monitoring devices track the movements of subjects on a 24/7 basis and can help keep enrollees stay compliant with their supervision requirements. If they aren t compliant, these devices immediately notify supervising agents through email or text message.

In addition to tracking an enrollee’s movements, GPS technology allows an agency to identify specific areas where the enrollee must be, such as school or work, and places he must avoid, such as parks or shopping malls, during certain hours of the day.

Understandably, supervising agencies need cost-effective ways to increase the accountability of enrollees. The around-the-clock tracking capability of GPS devices provides a way for agencies to use its resources wisely and maintain community safety.

Using STOP’s Monitoring Center: Best practice option

Monday, November 29th, 2010

STOP continually looks for ways to help our customers run the best electronic monitoring programs. One best practice option that can help establish consistent management of events is using the services offered by our Monitoring Center.

We offer our own Monitoring Center, which is staffed 24/7/365 with skilled technicians who receive event alerts (or notifications) and manages events based on the agency’s protocols. Agency instructions for managing events and violations are called protocols.

These instructions are input into the Monitoring Center widget in VeriTracks and displayed for our staff members to follow for every type of event or violation we manage for an agency. For example, if an enrollee generates a low battery alert, an agency may want our Monitoring Center technicians to manage the event by instructing the enrollee to attach the charging coupler to the bottom of BluTag. If an enrollee violates an exclusion zone, the agency may want our technicians to call the local police department so immediate action can be taken.

Protocols can also include details such as if an enrollee doesn’t respond to a telephone call within 30 minutes of violating an inclusion zone, an escalation tree, which is set up in advance by the agency, begins.

By leveraging STOP’s experience and 24/7 operations, large and small agencies can operate an efficient community supervision program. Let your account manager know how we can help.