On Valentine’s Day, a new policy to protect domestic-violence victims began in both Orange and Osceola counties.  The policy mandates the use of GPS tracking devices in high risk domestic violence cases. The policy only mandates the wearing of a GPS device in those domestic violence cases in which a permanent injunction has been issued.

Orange-Osceola Judge Belvin Perry, Jr., stated, “Those (victims) need to get some warning so they’re not just sitting ducks.”  Judge Perry sought legislative funding for the GPS equipment last year and said that he “knew of no other jurisdiction in the country that has employed the tactic” on domestic violence abusers.

Judge Perry added that after researching domestic abuse cases and talking with experts, they found that  in ten percent of the cases the abuser, despite an injunction being issued, will commit extreme acts of violence upon a victim, acts that at times result in the death of the victim.

The Orange County Domestic Violence Commission and other domestic violence advocates feel the policy is a huge step in the right direction for domestic violence victims.  In Orange County alone, twelve domestic violence murders have been committed since September.

According to Carol Wick, CEO of Harbor House, last year saw a 41 percent increase in the number of adult victims and a 36 percent increase in the number of children seeking shelter at the facility.  Wick also stated  92 percent of those individuals arrested for domestic violence receive no consequences for their actions and  Orange County alone spends $24 million a year to arrest domestic violence perpetrators just to turn around and let them go.

The new policy will require the offender to wear an ankle GPS unit which is monitored by an outside company.  When the abuser enters the restricted zone around the domestic violence victim, the victim will immediately be called, the local police or sheriff’s office will be contacted, and finally the wearers of the device will be called to give them the chance to retreat from the restricted area in case they mistakenly entered the area.

The pilot program will run through June and will cost the state $316,000.  Lawmakers will then decide whether or not to keep funding the program.

Original story can be found here.