Board of Supervisors Expands Technology to Track Criminals
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San Bernardino County is tightening its leash on a special group of undesirables. They include child molesters, wife beaters, drunken drivers and gang members.
Recently, the Board of Supervisors voted to expand the county's use of surveillance technology to track criminal offenders who are on probation or serving time on house arrest or weekends in jail.
Some of the technology includes global positioning satellite surveillance (GPS), home-based electronic monitoring and alcohol monitoring. Primary users of the technology will be the county Probation Department and the Sheriff's Department.
And at a time when taxpayers are taking a beating, this program is expected to pay its own way by requiring the offenders to pay for the equipment that tracks them. They either agree to that or face jail time.
Taxpayers get another break out of the deal. When the offender is out and about and being monitored, the county isn't forced to provide him/her with room and board, which is a big savings. It also helps alleviate overcrowding in the jails - a chronic problem in San Bernardino County.
The county signed contracts with Total Court Services to provide alcohol monitoring and Sentinel Offender Services to provide GPS tracking and home-based monitoring.
GPS satellite tracking has been in use in the county for four years. But the alcohol monitoring is new and the Sheriff's Department is a new addition to the home-based electronic monitoring system.
Several hundred county prisoners work during the week and serve their time on weekends. This should enable them to complete their sentences sooner.
The offenders will be charged $15 a day on a sliding scale according to their ability to pay. It will cost the county nothing, and the contractors will collect the money.
Tracking From Space
Slap a GPS ankle bracelet on a probationer and you can track where he is and where he has been today, last week or last month. No alibis or excuses.
The Probation Department's six-member sex offender unit was formed four years ago. It supervises 450 offenders countywide. Sex offenders are very different from other criminals. They tend to be intelligent, stable and employed. GPS is one of the tools used to supervise sex offenders. Others include home searches, surveillance, office visits, treatment and computer forensics. With all its capabilities, GPS doesn't know at any given moment what they are doing, who they are with or what actions they have taken. Satellite tracking is effective at getting compliance to the rules.
They call it (SCRAM), Secure Continuous Remote Alcohol Monitoring. It's a different sort of anklewear, and it doesn't make a fashion statement. It is sensitive to and records the amount of alcohol in your sweat. It's mostly used to monitor people on probation for driving under the influence, but it can be used in any cases where alcohol has been a factor, such as domestic violence, preventing underage drinking, or even custody cases. And Child Protective Services can request it.
There are a surprising number of bartenders wearing the device. It is sensitive enough to detect the difference between ambient alcohol and alcohol that has been consumed. The wearer must pair it with a device at home that downloads its information and transmits it to SCRAM. It's a great tool. Nobody gets arrested on suspicion. You get arrested on evidence.
It is hoped that SCRAM will reduce the number of second and third offenses and the overall amount of DUIs, making the community safer. In the past year, the county courts have issued almost 1,500 warrants for drivers who didn't follow the judges' orders and became fugitives. We could put both the alcohol monitor and the GPS monitor on an offender, if it was called for.
Tracking Gang Members
There are approximately 780 gangs in the county ranging from 200 to 300 members down to the teens. There are Latino gangs, African-American gangs, white gangs, hybrid (mixed race) gangs, tagger gangs, Asian gangs and outlaw motorcycle gangs. Gangs prey on the community.
The Probation Department has had as many as 75 gang members tracked by GPS. That number currently is 25.
California Formulates Plan to Slash Greenhouse Gas Emissions
Over the next 12 years, new regulations promulgated by the California Air Resources Board would seek to turn the climate change clock back to 1990 levels. More efficient electricity use, less traffic and cleaner cars are its goals.
California took this action recently in an ambitious attempt to turn back the clock of climate change, issuing its final draft of an economywide plan to slash the state's greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels.
Over the next 12 years, new regulations would shrink the per capita carbon footprint of Californians by an average of four tons per year, cutting the level of electricity residents use with more efficient buildings and appliances, and reducing the amount they drive, by discouraging urban sprawl.
The plan would require auto manufacturers to make cleaner cars, require utilities to build more solar and wind plants, and compel industries to hike energy efficiency.
California's climate blueprint would slash the state's emissions about 15% below today's level at a time when a consensus of scientists say that global warming is shrinking the state's water supplies, intensifying wildfires, and stressing plant and animal populations.
The Air Resources Board which designed the plan and will vote on it in December, said overall, Californians would save by using less energy.
More than a dozen other states have adopted or are considering greenhouse gas reduction goals.
Community Clean Up
On October 18, 2008, my staff and County Code Enforcement staff, conducted a highly successful community clean up in Chino. Over 226 vehicles were served and 53.50 tons of material was removed. That is approximately 11 trash trucks full. Included in the trash collected was 39.5 tons of general trash, 2.75 tons of recycled tires, 2.75 tons of recycled metal, 1 ton of green waste, and one ton of e-waste. We were able to divert 26% of the waste from the landfill. Thanks to my staff and County staff along with additional help provided by Burrtec Industries and Clean Earth Recycling for making the day a success.
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385 N Arrowhead Avenue
San Bernardino, CA 92415
Chino District Office:
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Chino, CA 91710
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