GPS Tracking Chips May be Unconstitutional
Williams Lake, B.C. – Williams Lake City Council’s goal of injecting prolific offenders with GPS tracking chips may not get past the drawing board.
Williams Lake city council voted in favour of the idea at a meeting earlier this week in reaction to the disturbing gunpoint robbery of a bicycle from a teenage boy in a popular park.
“I’m not familiar with the technology they’re referring to at all,” says Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General Mike Morris. “And there would be all kinds of constitutional challenges if we were to look at something like that.”
However Morris says his government has taken recent strides to help deal with prolific offenders.
“The government has just implemented a new electronic monitoring system that has increased capabilities, such as GPS function, for the courts to apply at their discretion,” he says. “Regardless, this government is committed to public safety and to continuing to drive down crime.”
To further tackle crime, Morris says his ministry has a team exploring a community safety partnership pilot project in Williams Lake and nearby First Nations communities.
“Our team has met with the mayor, various First Nations leaders and others to discuss their perspectives on community safety and crime prevention. Additional consultation is ongoing.”
Regardless, Williams Lake city councillor Scott Nelson says the incident has shaken the community of roughly 11,000 people.
“Never in our thoughts did we ever think that a 14 year old kid was going to get robbed in broad daylight at a birthday party in one of our most prominent parks,” he says. “And I think not only is the community frustrated, they’re just simply angry.”
He says a GPS tracking chip would allow them to monitor 20 to 30 prolific offenders and another 30-40 high risk offenders 24/7, 365 days a year.
“What we’re trying to do is open up every tool available to us and that means being innovative, that means doing things that people don’t really want to talk about because it may be an infringement of their privacy rights.”
Council’s decision has been forwarded to the North Central Local Government Association and the Union of B.C. Municipalities for support later this year.