A new advanced technology to help keep domestic violence offenders accountable while on probation was recently announced.
About $450,000 from the provincial government was given to the Central Alberta Women’s Emergency Shelter (CAWES) to support a new project titled the Electronic Monitoring pilot project.
The Edmonton and Calgary Police Services will also receive $129,000 each for the project.
The project includes a new advanced type of ankle bracelet that will be used on domestic violence offenders and will allow the RCMP to monitor them more closely.
About 10 ankle bracelets will be issued out in June to enhance the safety of victims of domestic violence.
“Domestic violence is in this community and it can also be dealt with,” said RCMP Supt. Brian Simpson. “We want to break that cycle of violence and this is a step in doing that.”
The bracelet will be attached to a probation order condition for now but can be used for other offenders in the future.
“It can apply in other areas in time but right now we are focusing on domestic violence,” said Simpson.
The technology has evolved to the point where they can specify where the offender can and cannot go. If an offender steps outside of their boundaries or attempts to take the bracelet off it will send a warning and that individual can be charged again for a breech of probation.
“It demonstrates how serious we do take these events,” said Simpson. “Sometimes it depends on two witnesses (for a breech of probation conviction)– one saying one thing and one saying another. We now have technical support saying yes you were there.”
Simpson also said it will not take away from the day to day investigative approach, but it will provide another step if an offender breeches their probation.
Brenda Rebman, president of the Central Alberta Women’s Shelter said it is important to have a plan in place for women trying to get out of a domestic violence situation and another step to ensure their safety.
“It is an opportunity for one more element for planning safety so these women can live in comfort and peace for a period of time,” said Rebman. “We have victims who come in everyday that are not safe at home and by way of their own means they want to go home or live on their own. They are not at the shelter because they want to live in a shelter, they are there because they need support and help.”
Rebman also said it is important for these women to stay safe when leaving the shelter and these bracelets will help ensure that they are.
“By sending women back out in the community without those safe guards they run the risk of domestic violence happening again,” she said. “If there is not an opportunity for us to make the offender accountable then the victim is compromised with their safety in the community.”
Mary Anne Jablonski, MLA for Red Deer North said that these projects are important to Alberta.
“Every community is unique and has its own specific needs. The Safe Communities Initiative is a great way for communities across Alberta to develop and tailor projects that address their local priorities,” said Jablonski. “I applaud these community groups for recognizing the need to work together to reduce crime, which will ultimately help build a safer, stronger community.”