Governor's proposal to increase GPS monitoring - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Governor's proposal to increase GPS monitoring


Eau Claire (WQOW) - Restraining orders in Wisconsin could be gaining some strength if the governor's proposed law enforcement budget passes.

Governor Walker wants to add $3 million to monitor people who have restraining orders filed against them.

In some cases courts could even require monitoring before individuals are sentenced.

"The unfortunate thing is, there's a lot of restraining orders that have been violated, that continue to be violated," says the Executive Director of Bolton Refuge House, Pat Stein.

There is a possible solution, but unfortunately it has run into its own issues.

"We don't use it with a majority of our participants due to the cost of the equipment.  But when we've used it we have found it to be very efficient and very effective and we'd like to use it more," says Eau Claire County Corrections Officer Kraig Zwiefelhofer.

He's talking about GPS monitoring, which would be expanded under the governor's budget proposal.

"Maybe now, because there is this opportunity for them to be monitored and monitored by a system that has the opportunity to hold them accountable, maybe victims will have better faith in the restraining order process," says Stein.

An opportunity that could put this device on the leg of those receiving the restraining order that same day in court.

"In those circumstances it's going to be an extremely effective tool, enhancing the safety and the protection of victims," says Stein.

That's because the device acts as a second set of eyes for authorities.

"The response is generally within two to three minutes.  Now it's going to depend on who's doing the monitoring.  If someone's being monitored 24/7 if it's a dispatch center or something like that," says Zwiefelhofer.

And if something goes wrong, like if someone leaves a specified area, "Currently with the one we use we can get text message, email, fax, pretty much anything technology does.  You can get notified someone has gone somewhere they're not supposed to," says Zwiefelhofer.

"It allows law enforcement to intervene at a much earlier time.  So hopefully those types of things that occurred where stalking is involved and then there's the escalation and then ultimately a homicide occurs.  Hopefully, maybe, some of those could be prevented," says Stein.

The technology does have its limits, but many can be worked around quickly.

"If you go into a large concrete building you do tend to lose service.  But you know that someone went into a building and you know as soon as they're going to walk out of a building," says Zwiefelhofer.

Cost can be constrictive at $1,000 a unit and an average of $50 per day to operate in places like St. Croix County, but some see it being well worth the cost.

"It will be that opportunity to actually hold an individual accountable for those violations," says Stein.

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