A shopping mall shooting in Toronto could have been averted by GPS tracking. According to the Attorney General of Ontario, John Gerretsen, it is hard to get good statistics about suspects on bail in Ontario. Questions have been raised as to whether the system is keeping good enough tabs on those on bail. Christopher Husbands, 23, was one of them, and no one seemed to know where he was until it was far too late.
Husbands entered the food court of the Eaton Centre shopping mall on June 2 and opened fire. One man died that day, another died later, and five others were injured. The two who died were members of the same gang as Husbands, although police say that do not think the shooting was actually gang-related. Innocent victims among the bystanders included a 13-year-old boy. Husbands fled the scene but turned himself in a few days later.
Husbands was supposed to be on house arrest, awaiting a trial for sexual assault. Incredibly, he had also been working for the city in an after-school care program, which apparently did not require a background check. These facts raise a lot of questions, and while GPS tracking is not a cure-all, it could be a significant part of the answer.
Ontario already uses GPS tracking for parolees and criminals on probation. This kind of tracking system uses electronic bracelets worn by parolees. The bracelets contain a tracking device which communicates with satellites and computers so that the location of the device is known at all times. If a parolee violates boundary lines (or somehow breaks or removes the device), police are instantly alerted. The use of GPS reduces the expense of the man-hours that would otherwise be needed to constantly check on parolees. It also provides the police with strong evidence in parole violation cases. GPS could have the same benefits for the bail system.
The Canadian federal rules for bail have been in place for 35 years. The Attorney General says the bail system is working well, with some exceptions. It is high time to fix the exceptions. The technology is readily available, and the police are already familiar with it since they use it for parole. Expanding or duplicating the system for those on bail could not be too difficult, and the added safety for the public would be well worth the monetary cost.