Ankle bracelet will be Strauss-Kahn companion

22nd May 2011, Comments 0 comments

As former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn settles into house arrest awaiting trial on sexual assault charges his constant companion will be a GPS-equipped ankle bracelet tracking his every move.

Electronic monitoring devices of the type Strauss-Kahn is compelled to wear under the terms of his release by a New York judge on $1 million bail are capable of providing a minute-by-minute log of a wearer's movements.

"Like with the GPS in your vehicle, I'll see dots showing wherever a person is at," said Perry Smith, president and owner of ADAPT Inc, a Bismarck, North Dakota-based company that supplies GPS tracking services.

"I'll see dots going from the bedroom to the living room," Smith told AFP. "You can set it as accurate as you want -- within feet or within yards."

Strauss-Kahn, who is accused of sexually assaulting a 32-year-old hotel maid, is required under the terms of his release to wear a "Personal Tracking Unit" providing real-time monitoring with Global Positioning System technology.

The judge also ordered the former managing director of the International Monetary Fund to surrender his passport and to be confined 24 hours a day under armed guard at a location in Manhattan while awaiting his next court date.

Darryl Martin, president of G4S Justice Services, an Atlanta-based company that is a leading supplier of electronic monitoring services, said the devices can be programmed to report a wearer's location every minute.

"We can go as low as one minute, collecting a GPS point once per minute and transmitting that information once per minute into a monitoring center," Martin said.

If a device fails to report at a designated interval, the monitoring company or the law enforcement authorities are alerted by email, text message or by an automated telephone call, generally to a smartphone.

Martin said GPS monitoring units, which tend to weigh less than a pound (0.45 kilograms) and are designed to be "inconspicuous," can be set up to include what he called geographic "inclusion" or "exclusion" zones.

In Strauss-Kahn's case, "they could create a zone around his residence and say he must not leave that zone," he said. "And if he does leave that zone than that alert process would occur."

"Or you could draw an exclusion zone, a zone where he's not allowed to go," Martin said. "For example, you could draw an exclusion zone around the airport and say that person's not to go near the airport.

"If they do, that alert process would take effect," he said.

An alert would also be triggered by any attempt to tamper with the device, either by cutting the plastic strap affixing it to the ankle or by trying to otherwise disable the unit.

"You can cut them off with a pair of shears," Martin said, but doing so would trigger an immediate alert.

"They're pretty foolproof," said ADAPT's Smith. "If at any moment that bracelet is cut -- there's monofilament lines in there -- I'll get a text message on my phone within a minute."

John Bailey, a case manager at CHI Monitoring in Placerville, California, said his electronic monitoring company has never had anyone try to disable the device.

"We've never had anyone try it that I know of," Bailey said. "I don't know too many people savvy enough to try it."

About the only way to try to get around the all-seeing device, he said, would be to "just cut the sucker and run and hope (you) didn't get caught."

© 2011 AFP

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