Dick In The News

With more that 35 years of experience, Dick Batchelor is consistently
sought out to provide expert commentary on business and governmental affairs. Read more about his appearances in the news below.

9 Investigates proposal of GPS program for domestic violence victims

This article first appeared in the WFTV/Cox Media Group. View original here
8 Jan

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — Rafael Zaldivar's son, Alex, was shot execution style, and the father said he remembers every detail about his son's death.

"He was killed instantly," Zaldivar said.

Investigators said Bessman Okafor killed Alex days before he was to testify against Okafor in a home invasion trial.

"I was devastated. He could've been saved," Zaldivar said of his son.

Okafor was out of jail on bond, required to wear a GPS device that Orange County Corrections failed to properly monitor, according to an investigative report.

Since then, electronic monitoring and GPS were both shut down because of Zaldivar's killing, along with failures. 9 Investigates has learned a state-mandated committee is considering bringing the GPS program back but only to protect domestic violence victims.

"If you're being stalked or you (have) an abuser who's threatened to kill themselves and kill you, that GPS can be that 15-second window to keep you and your children alive," said Carol Wick, CEO of Harbor House Central Florida.

No matter the location, if abuser's get too close to their victims, a corresponding device carried by the victims would sound off.

WFTV legal analyst Belvin Perry was the chief judge who suspended GPS. He said he supports the new idea.

"The teeth is in the enforcement. If someone violates the conditions, then there must be some swift actions taken," Perry said.

Teeth could come in a bill being drafted by Sen. David Simmons and pushed by Dick Batchelor.

Removing or tampering with a GPS would result in a felony. It's not even a crime right now.

"Would it help in protecting in 100 percent of the cases? Maybe not. But in most of the cases it will, and that's what we need," Batchelor said.

Rafael Zaldivar fears it will give victims a false sense of protection, and he worries another father will go through what he did.

"On the floor, hands behind his back, legs crossed, pair of shorts in a pool of blood," said Zaldivar as he described the crime scene photos.

The committee is working on a report to present to County Commission. The County has no plans to revive electronic monitoring, which is different from the GPS program.

Funding and technology issues still have to be worked out, and the chief judge has to agree to any program presented.