ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. - A grieving Orange County father attacked the county's problematic GPS monitoring system, which resumed Monday after being suspended for a month.
Orange County will be implementing a more stringent GPS monitoring program starting Monday, but one victim's father is critical of the company who runs the program.
The county and 3M Electronic Monitoring agreed to a contract that says 3M will oversee monitoring for serious accused criminals out on bail. County officials said it's the same contracted company used by the Florida Department of Corrections.
But when Rafael Zaldivar read a recent Los Angeles Times article about problems plaguing California's GPS monitoring program, it was an all too familiar story.
Bessman Okafor, who was on home confinement, allegedly killed Zaldivar's 19-year-old son, Alex Zaldivar, during a home invasion. Alex Zaldivar was scheduled to testify against Okafor in a separate home invasion case.
Zaldivar stood out in front of the Orange County Jail Monday and told WFTV how angry he was.
"If the police come to your house at three 3 a.m. it's too late. CSI will be there to pull your family off the floor like they did to my son," said Zaldivar.
The Los Angeles Times article cited a California state report that found 3M's ankle monitors were so inaccurate and unreliable, the public was in "imminent danger."
"Did they investigate this company? Did they check this company?," Zaldivar asked. "Red flag! I knew right away... It's another joke."
In a statement to Eyewitness News, Orange County spokesman Steve Triggs said Public Safety Director Linda Weinberg was unaware of the L.A. Times article.
"We don't know if Florida is even using the same version of GPS monitoring equipment that 3M is using in California. The simple fact is there is no perfect system, but we think even a potentially flawed GPS monitoring system is better than nothing," Triggs said.
Beginning Monday, roughly 50 defendants on pre-trial release will be fitted with the new ankle monitors.
Weinberg said the company will be in contact
with Orange County corrections officials 24/7 and is required to warn them if anyone breaks the monitoring rules.
The old program was halted last month after Wilfred Gregory cut off his GPS ankle monitor following a shooting that he's suspected in.
The county's home confinement system was also suspended after WFTV revealed Okafor violated his home confinement dozens of times, including when he allegedly killed Alex Zaldivar.
"Alex died and he paid dearly for it. Orange County failed him," Zaldivar said.
The new system will be in place for four to five months. A consulting company will then release findings on the problems with the previous GPS system.
Starting Monday, judges will start putting some of the defendants accused of violent crimes who are out on bail, on the 3-M GPS monitors. There are about 40 to 50 who were being monitored by community corrections who fit the criteria.
However, the new defendants who fit the criteria will also be put on GPS and the county is going to pay for it.