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Orange County ends GPS monitoring of suspects

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Updated: 6/08/2013 9:29 am
ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. (WFTV) -- First suspended, now ended -- the use of GPS for monitoring suspects in Orange County is over.

Investigative reporter Christopher Heath spoke with Chief Judge Belvin Perry after the order was signed.

For now, those being monitored by GPS will stay on GPS, but the judges in each case could change that if they want.
The courts will now likely return to setting high bonds in order for people charged with serious crimes to bail out, as it was before GPS monitoring.

In the wake of two high-profile GPS violations, Perry said the system has major flaws, but it also has promise.

An Easter weekend family gathering in Apopka was shattered by gunshots.

One man was shot in the head and the suspect, Wilfred Gregory, ran. 

As he did, he cut off his court-ordered GPS tracking device, giving him a head start on the police. The program has been brought to an immediate halt. 

"It gives everyone a false sense of security when there is no security whatsoever," Perry said.

In a three-page order, Perry ordered all pretrial GPS monitoring by private companies to come to an end Friday, citing a lack of personnel, procedures, oversight and law enforcement response.

"You have two private companies, and there is some shortcomings dealing with those," Perry said.

Private company Court Programs of Central Florida was supposed to be monitoring Gregory.

Police say the company failed to alert Apopka police for several hours following the shooting, a gap of time that police said almost let the suspect get away.

The judge said domestic violence GPS will continue and left the door open for a return of pretrial GPS.

Perry said three things must happen before the program is put back into effect:

1) Create direct oversight for the program, instead of allowing GPS companies to self-report.
2) Legislation for law enforcement that gives police authority to arrest rule breakers
3) Specific polices for use that define who can and cannot use GPS

"Without those three things, in my estimation, the program does not work, period," Perry said.
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