Orange County’s GPS Tracking Device Controversy

Recent events in the Orange County area are causing residents to be concerned; and with good reason. It's time that lawmakers take another look at their policies regarding GPS tracking devices for parolees.

Two men, Steve Gordon and Franc Cano, both registered sex offenders, on parole in the Anaheim area have been charged with serial murders. These rape and murders of four local women occurred between October 2013 and March 2015 while the men were under supervision of state parole and federal probation officers.

Even though these men were wearing GPS bracelets at the time that the crimes took place as a part of their parole requirements, they were being tracked by different agencies. Federal probation officers were tracking Gordon's bracelet while Cano was wearing a GPS tracking device from state parole agents. Because these agencies did not have access to each other's data, they never realized that the men were meeting frequently to plan the murders.

Local residents are calling for all probation agencies to share this data with one another in order to keep parolees from interacting with one another so that they can prevent crimes from happening in the future. Without the systems interacting with one another, they are simply ineffective. And with Orange County officers monitoring 1,600 offenders, California parole agents tracking 6,700, and federal officers watching 1,400 parolees it is essential that they all be in unison with one another.

County probation officials have since drafted a legislative plan to link GPS used by county, state, and federal law enforcement agencies in order for officers to be able to compare offenders wearing monitors under different systems. It has also been proposed that officials look into changing the technology to more easily identify prohibited meetings between offenders wearing GPS bracelets. In fact, the Board of Supervisors has approved a $2 million contract to a GPS company over the next four years to lease and monitor bracelets worn by county probationers. This will provide more oversight of parolees and help to eliminate potential coverage issues.