Osceola County Community Corrections looking to purchase GPS tethers


OSCEOLA COUNTY — With the success of its alcohol tether program, Osceola County Community Corrections is looking to begin offering a different type of monitoring.

By December, Pete Carlson, Osceola County Community Corrections director, hopes to have five GPS tethers, which would be used to monitor violent offenders.

“The GPS tethers would be such a benefit for law enforcement,” Carlson explained. “There are people who violate Personal Protection Orders (PPOs), go in areas they aren’t supposed to be or return to see victims they’ve assaulted. With these tethers, we can set up exclusion zones and be notified if the offender violates and enters that zone.”

The initial cost for the GPS monitoring is $725 per unit, which is much cheaper than the SCRAM (Secure Continuous Remote Alcohol Monitor) tethers, Carlson said. Community corrections must purchase five units at first, but can then purchase the GPS tethers in any increment for follow-up orders.

Like the alcohol tether program, the GPS tether program also will be able to provide a source of income for community corrections.

People placed on tethers pay $10 each day. About half of the cost goes to the tether company for their monitoring service, which keeps track of the data from the tether. The rest of the money is profit for Osceola County Community Corrections, and is used to help run community service programs and work crews.

“The money part is a real bonus, but mostly it’s a law enforcement tool and it’s an effective one,” Carlson said.

Since June, those charged with a second or subsequent drunk driving offense are automatically placed on a tether as a condition of their bond. Mecosta and Osceola County 77th District Court Judge Peter Jaklevic is looking into doing something similar with the GPS tethers.

“What we’re looking at is possibly making GPS tethers a bond condition for those charged with second domestic violence offenses and up, as well as any type of felony assaults,” Jaklevic said. “It’s not uncommon for someone to be out on bond and go violate a no-contact order, so this could possibly reduce that. Nothing has been decided yet, but it’s an option.”

Carlson sees GPS tethers as a way to provide concrete evidence of a violation.

“There are a lot of times we hear of people going where they aren’t supposed to, but that’s just hearsay,” Carlson said. “With this, there is proof. I get the alerts and can print off the data to show the judge.”