Probation officers strap on GPS devices to put them to test

Probation officers strap on GPS devices to put them to test (Image 1)
Probation officers strap on GPS devices to put them to test (Image 1)

This weekend nine Tennessee Department of Probation and Parole officers are wearing GPS monitoring and RF monitoring devices in a real world test of how well the devices track offenders on probation and parole.

The department already uses similar devices to monitor violent offenders and high risk sex offenders. 

They allow the officers to see at any time where the person is located, if they have violated rules of curfew, if they have gone to a prohibited area or if they have tampered with the device. 

“It is accountability to make sure we know what they are doing where they are going,” District 51 Director John Parker said. “A big aspect for us is public safety and in order to make sure the public is safe we want to make sure we are providing effective community supervision.”

The officers will wear the devices from Friday to Monday and will put them into various scenarios to see how they react and how quickly they notify the monitoring center. 

Jamie Staggs is a probation officer who monitors 12 offenders. During her seven years on the job she has put a number of monitoring devices on offenders, Friday she had one strapped to her ankle. 

“I think it is going to make me do my job better because I am going to know what they experienced first-hand,” she said. “When they have questions, complaints or issues I can let them know I experienced it as well.”

The GPS monitoring is how probation officers found convicted sex offender Larry Frierson inside an ice cream truck in east Nashville earlier this month. 

The ultimate goal is to increase safety for the public.

“Public safety is our number one goal,” Staggs said. “For us to have the ability to track sex offenders that are obviously high risk to society, to know where they are going and if they are going to places they shouldn’t be its very important.”

Probationers pay a fee to offset the cost of the monitoring devices. If they violate a condition and the department is notified a call is immediately made to the offender and their assigned probation officer. 

On case by case basis the offender can be returned to prison if they violate the conditions of probation or parole. 

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