Stopping Gang Violence
GPS Trackers Helping Police Stop Gang Members
In parts of California, gang violence is a constant threat to the safety and security of everyday life. While the city of Los Angeles is considered the Gang Capital of America, the Bay Area of California has seen a sharp increase in violence and crime in recent years, much of which has been connected to gang activities. A big part of this problem is that more often than not, imprisoned gang members will quickly return to their gangs once they are released or put on parole.
To fight against this growing threat, the Richmond (California) Police Department, in cooperation with the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, began a new program in an attempt to stem this growing tide of gang crime. Beginning in May 2010, the program calls for state parole agents to outfit convicted gang members with GPS tracking devices when they are put on parole. If a parolee enters an area known for gang-related meetings and activity, the GPS trackers are programmed to both notify the police of their location. The parolee must then contact their parole officer and explain where they were and what they were doing in the restricted zone or the parolee could be considered in violation of their parole terms. The GPS devices also contain a vibrating pager that goes off when the parolee enters a known gang territory, reminding them that they are being watched by the police.
As of this writing, 20 parolees have been outfitted with these devices, and police have already seen promising results. One member of this test group originally served time in prison for gun-related crime and drug possession charges, as part of a gang in Richmond, California. Within hours of having his real time GPS tracker activated, this parolee was picked up by police again on charges of gun possession in violation of parole.
Police believe that by tracking paroled gang-members, they can dramatically reduce the overall amount of gang-related crime that occurs in their cities. If this test program is as successful as early indicators suggest it will be, then police will gain a significant tool to aid them in their fight against gang-related crime. This also means, of course, that the mean streets of some of these gang-ravaged cities may become a little more peaceful for the innocent people who just want to live their lives free from violence.