Recent reports of violent crimes by people wearing GPS ankle bracelets, including last week’s mass drive-by shooting on North Capitol Street in the District, have many asking why someone would commit crimes knowing they’ll be easier to catch.
Craig Wilson, 19, was wearing a GPS ankle bracelet from a previous, unrelated crime when he was allegedly in one of the two vehicles that sprayed the front of Tyler House of North Capitol Street NW with bullets March 11, injuring 13.
The GPS device tracked Wilson’s movement near the shooting scene, according to court documents. After police released his photo as a person of interest two days later, he cut off the device.
The next day near Syracuse, N.Y., a convicted sex offender named David Renz cut off his GPS ankle bracelet before allegedly killing a 47-year-old woman and raping a 10-year-old girl who was with her.
D.C. Deputy Mayor Paul Quander, who helped bring the monitoring program to the District when he headed the Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency, believes the technology remains an effective deterrent.
“If a crime is committed and you show up on that screen, and you will, then we have the wherewithal to come and get you and most importantly, we have the wherewithal to convict you,” he said.
In November, a man wearing a GPS ankle bracelet was charged with the beating of an elderly woman while burglarizing her home. As in the North Capitol Street shooting, the monitor quickly led police to him.
Quander said he doesn't know why people would commit crimes for which they are essentially guaranteed to get caught, especially after they are shown the monitoring system, which can even determine if a car they are riding in is speeding.
Quander said he plans to address the question of how close to a crime is close enough to be investigated.
“When there’s an incident, what distance are we talking about?” Quander said. “Are we talking about 1,000 feet or are we talking about 75 to 50 feet within the time frame that this crime was committed. We don’t want it to be too broad.”
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