Starting July 1, state law will require high-risk sex offenders to be monitored at all times via GPS system.
“It’s not a bad idea to useGPS system on high-risk sexoffenders,” said Yolo County chief probation officer Don Meyer. “It has the option of increasing public safety because we’ll know where the sex offenders are 24/7.”
The device will be strapped onto the offender’s ankle at all times and tracked by the government GPS satellite.
“You have an ankle monitor and a battery pack that sends signals to the satellite which allows the GPS system to pinpoint where that person is,” Meyer said.
The Yolo County Probation Department has been monitoring one sex offender using the GPS system since last month, according to Meyer.
Monitoring sex offenders may prevent them from committing a crime, said Davis detective Jeff Beasley.
“We’ve been registering sex offenders for years,” he said. “While [sex offenders] are being watched, they tend to know not to offend. Should there be a crime, we can contact them and interview them and see whether or not they are involved.”
Despite making an effort to increase public safety, the GPS system will be costly.
“The units themselves are $5 to $6 per day and [the money] is going to come from the county,” Meyer said. “If there are 200 offenders, that’s $1,000 per day, or $365,000 per year, and we can’t afford that.”
In addition, a large amount of staff time is required.
“The $5 unit is cheaper than having them in jail, but the staff time to make sure they’re monitoring them every day is an absorbent cost,” Meyer added.
Under Proposition 83, registered sex offenders are banned from living within 2,000 feet of schools or parks. Monitoring sex offenders via GPS system has actually caught a particular sex offender violating the parole.
“It showed him walking down the park and where he hung out in the park,” Beasley said. “By doing that, we could tell that he has been violating the parole.”
If an incident occurs, the device allows police to easily refer to the GPS system and locate a sex offender.
“The purpose of the GPS system is to contact and monitor them at any time when it is deemed necessary by the law enforcement,” Beasley said.
There are 13 registered sex offenders in the 95616 and 95618 ZIP codes, according to the Megan’s Law website.
“I am not sure whether all these individuals would be subject to GPS tracking provision of Proposition 83, but allowing local law enforcement officials to know whether high-risk offenders are deliberately approaching schools, parks and other sensitive areas in Davis makes sense,” said City Councilmember Lamar Heystek in an e-mail. “My concern is that the emphasis should be on prevention not just through legal consequences, but also through clinical intervention.”
JANET HUNG can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.