GPS system to track offenders

By Staff

Calgary – A new research project being conducted at the University of Calgary will evaluate the effectiveness of using global positioning satellite (GPS) technology to monitor offenders in the community.

The three-year, $1 million project is a joint venture between the university and the Government of Alberta, and is designed to assess the potential of GPS technology as an additional tool law enforcement can use to monitor offenders.

“The ultimate goal here is to determine if this technology, when used properly, can help keep Alberta communities safe,” said Alberta’s Minister of Justice and Attorney General Alison Redford in a release Friday. “We need to test the limitations of the technology against the benefit to Albertans.”

The research project will include gathering data from police and corrections agencies on offenders currently under surveillance or supervision.

Alberta’s Correctional Services currently uses radio frequency electronic monitoring (RFEM) units to for curfew monitoring and the Calgary Police Service has a small number of GPS monitoring units in its arsenal of equipment.

The project, funded by the government’s Safe Communities initiative, will make additional units available to the Calgary Police Service’s High Risk Offender program, allowing them to monitor a number of medium- and high-risk offenders, including sex offenders who have been released into the community but whom are deemed likely to offend again.

The program is hoping to provide similar opportunities for the Edmonton Police Service’s High Risk Unit.

Additionally, the Central Alberta Women’s Emergency Shelter Society is working with stakeholders in Red Deer and University of Calgary researchers to implement a pilot project using GPS-EM equipment that would monitor domestic violence offenders deemed low enough risk to be sentenced to community sentences by the courts.

If the research produces positive results, the pilot project may be expanded to other levels of offenders and to other police agencies in the province.

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