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UPDATE: Councillors propose GPS tracking for offenders

If Williams Lake city council has its way, prolific and high risk offenders will be subject to GPS tracking.

If Williams Lake city council has its way, prolific and high risk offenders will be subject to GPS tracking, which Coun. Scott Nelson said following Tuesday’s meeting will include a call for GPS injectable chips.

The resolution endorsed by council at its regular meeting supports GPS tracking on prolific and repeat offenders who are considered risks to their communities. The resolution will be sent to the North Central Local Government Association (NCLGA) and the Union of British Columbia Municipalities (UBCM).

The move to get a handle on the city’s crime problems follows the latest violent crime committed in the city Monday when a teen was robbed of his BMX at gunpoint in the Boitanio Park skateboard park.

Mayor Walt Cobb and city councillors said GPS tracking will give police more tools to fight crime in this and other cities.

In an interview following the meeting Cobb said Monday’s robbery was the fourth major incident in the city since January.

“We’ve had enough,” Cobb said. “We’ve talked about it and it is time that talking quit and action started … I think we have to start moving. It is time. We can’t continue to sit back and let these guys ruin our community.”

City finance chair Coun. Scott Nelson said a lot of time and money has been spent trying to keep track of a small, core group of criminals who are terrorizing the community and using injection style GPS trackers would give police a tool to track this core group of criminals at all times, until they straighten up.

“We believe the collective rights of a community supersede the individual rights of prolific offenders and high risk offenders,” Nelson said.

Asked if the use injection style GPS tracking chips would pass the muster of human rights court challenges in Canada, Nelson responded: “If you try nothing you are going to get nothing.”

Nelson said bracelet-style GPS tracking devices are not good enough to keep track of prolific and high risk offenders because they can be more easily removed than a chip imbedded under the skin.

He said the injected style of GPS devices have been used successfully to track prolific offenders in some U.S. cities since 2000.

At the moment, he said Williams Lake has 12 to 15 prolific offenders and another 30 to 40 high risk offenders who are known to commit 80 per cent of the crimes.

“There is a time right now where I think that in people’s eyes they want to see real change, not talk about change but real change,” Nelson said.