Tuesday, July 1, 2008

CDCR and LA County's Sheriff's Department Team-Up to Track Gang Members via GPS

SACRAMENTO - Today, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation's (CDCR) Division of Adult Parole Operations, in collaboration with the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department (LASD), activated 20 Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) bracelets on parolees known to have been involved or previously associated to gang activity. The effort is an attempt to deter parolees from being involved with gangs and serves as a way to track the activity of those who fail to stay away from them.

"We have had previous successes in monitoring gang activity by GPS and we are proud to be working closely with the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department to assist them in curbing illegal gang-related actions in their county through this program," said Thomas Hoffman, Director of CDCR's Parole Division. "Either an individual is going to be afraid to engage in illegal activity because of the bracelets or they are going to lead us to other criminals. No matter how you look at it, it is a win-win and worth the effort."

Last year, authorities were able to solve the murder of a young woman killed in a drive-by shooting after one of the seven gang members involved was wearing a GPS bracelet issued to him by the Los Angeles Police Department. In November 2007, authorities started tracking the movements of about 20 paroled gang members by GPS. After a call came in for the fatal shooting of 20-year-old Nelly Vergara Hernandez, officers checked the computer that tracks the 20 gang members and noticed that one of the gang members was at the address the same time the shooting occurred. A police helicopter was able to use the parolee's GPS readings and tracked him down in Compton, CA. Police were then able to arrest all seven gang members involved in the murder and bring them to justice.

"Our partnership with CDCR and the use of GPS for gang members on parole will serve to strengthen public safety in Los Angeles County, potentially deter gang activity and will also complement our ASAP (Advanced Surveillance and Protection) plan at Century Sheriff's Station," commented Sheriff Lee Baca.

California already leads the nation in the monitoring of sex offenders with GPS systems, and is using the same technology to combat gang activity in the state. The CDCR and LASD are hopeful to implement more GPS gang tracking case loads as soon as more GPS units become available for use and as the technologies associated with them continue to improve.


# # # #