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Seminole Co. implements new system to fight domestic violence

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SEMINOLE COUNTY, Fla. - The Seminole County Sheriff's Office is breaking new ground in the fight against domestic violence.

The agency is the only sheriff's office in the country to implement a system to track defendants with a multilayer approach using GPS technology, the dispatch center and the probation office.

The probation office can set up exclusionary zones. If the defendant enters one, he or she knows it and so do sheriff's deputies.

"We feel it's critical and although it's not fail-safe, it is an additional layer of protection that we can provide to the victim," said Sheriff's Office Capt. Stephanie Ryan.

In 2008, Seminole County asked judges in every case of domestic violence with a battery, to order a GPS tracking device called EMPACT.

An average of 80 defendants are tracked every month.

"Since its inception, since 2008, we haven't had any repeat incidents," said Sheriff's Office Lt. Tracy Fortenberry.

The new system costs $9.50 per day. That cost is paid by the defendant and the Sheriff’s Office said there were no start-up costs.

Officials said what makes the system work is the technology coupled with the collaboration between the Sheriff’s Office, 911 center and the probation office.

Like any injunction or monitoring, crimes can still be committed, but the Sheriff’s Office said behavior modification and not responding to violations of the exclusion zones has been its key.

"They know we are watching them now with the monitor with the ankle bracelet on. We can actually send them messages that sends the message that 'Hey, big brother is watching,'" Fortenberry said.