Orange County, FL: Temporary GPS Monitoring Plan For Bonded Suspects In Place

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Although the GPS monitoring and house arrest programs in Orange County have been suspended, judges will still have a temporary option for those suspects who are released prior to trial but still need monitoring.

The county will rely on GPS tracking ankle bracelets in order to monitor those suspects of certain violent crimes, such as aggravated battery, while out on bail 24 hours a day, according to Orange County Public Safety Director Linda Weinberg. Those committing certain violent crimes such as murder would not be eligible for the program.

The county’s GPS tracking program was suspended on April 2, and two days later, Wilfred Gregory shot someone and then removed his GPS device. The company who provided the county with the monitoring services didn’t alert police until the next day that he had removed his tracking device.

People like Rafael Zaldivar are unhappy with the suspension as well. His son, Alex Zaldivar, was killed by Bessman Okafor. The county was supposed to be monitoring Okafor.

It was Okafor that led to the suspension of the program in the first place: the Orlando Sentinel uncovered the fact that Okafor, defendant in a home invasion and murder trial, had violated curfew over 100 times. Not one of these violations were reported to the court, and during one of them, Okafor shot three people. Two were set to testify against him at trial, and the third was 19 year old Zaldivar.

“A number of people started coming on pretrial-release supervision,” said Weinberg. “Some of these people, because of the nature of their charges, are not really appropriate for pretrial-release supervision.”

The program temporarily in place provides GPS monitoring of up to 50 suspects while the current GPS monitoring and home confinement programs are being reviewed, said Weinberg. Judges have received a list of defendants who county officials believe should be monitored by GPS device, and must make a determination as to which of those suspects will be part of the program.

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Khristen Foss

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