Evidence of meeting #40 for Public Safety and National Security in the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was device.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

3:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Kevin Sorenson

Good afternoon, everyone.

This is meeting number 40 of the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security, Tuesday, May 15, 2012.

Today we are continuing, or maybe I should even say going back to our study on electronic monitoring. We're looking forward to hearing today from the 3M Company. Appearing before us is Steve Chapin, vice-president, track and trace solutions. Also, appearing with him is Elise Maheu, director of government affairs. We welcome you to this committee. We look forward to your comments.

This study is drawing to a close, and soon we will be drafting our report and making recommendations to the government, so we look forward to your comments. We welcome them at this time, and then we will go into a couple rounds of questioning, if that would be all right.

Mr. Chapin, go ahead please.

3:30 p.m.

Steve Chapin Vice-President, Track and Trace Solutions, 3M Company

Thank you. It's a pleasure to be here. I also want to thank you for ordering up some of this nice Florida weather for me, to make me feel at home while I'm here.

My name is Steve Chapin. I'm a vice-president in 3M track and trace solutions, focusing on electronic monitoring. I was the CEO of Pro Tech Monitoring from 2001 until 2011, when 3M purchased my company. I continue to be intimately involved with all aspects of our electronic monitoring business, and I can tell you that I'm thrilled to be part of the 3M family.

My background is engineering, not corrections, so I will focus on the technical benefits and value of a comprehensive electronic monitoring solution.

A quick word about 3M, it is the innovation company that never stops inventing. With $29.6 billion in sales and more than 50,000 products, 3M employs about 84,000 people worldwide, and has operations in more than 65 countries.

In 1951, 3M Canada was established and now conducts activities in the areas of manufacturing, research and development, sales, marketing, and logistics. It employs close to 1,900 people and has eight manufacturing sites and several sales offices coast to coast.

To come back to electronic monitoring, which is the fun stuff, our team pioneered the use of GPS for tracking and monitoring pre-trial defendants and post-adjudicated offenders in our communities. While the core technology remains largely the same—in that we utilize GPS receivers, wireless modems, several security precautions—many improvements have been made over the past 15 years. I brought with me some of my table toys, simply to give you an idea of how far we've come.

This was our original tracking device that we put in the field in 1997. We deployed roughly 6,000 of these devices, and they stayed in the field until 2009. Go back in time to 1997, if you will, and think about the cellphone technology you were using back then. It was quite big.

Today, this is the tracking device we use. This is our premier tracking device. The offender carries this device and he's tethered to it with a 2 oz ankle bracelet that he cannot remove without setting off the tamper alarm. The device has very intensive supervision, and also allows for text and real-time voice communication with the offender.

The other technology is what many people think of when they think of GPS, and that's the one-piece tracking device. This one is an all-inclusive device that also goes on the offender's ankle. That will give you a little bit of an idea of what the technology is.

Today we are the global leader in design, manufacturing, and system implementation, tailored to meet the local needs of the communities we serve. GPS tracking is part of an integrated electronic monitoring solution that includes voice verification; traditional radio frequency, which is sometimes referred to as house arrest monitoring; passive and active GPS in both one-piece and two-piece devices; and alcohol monitoring. These are all accessed and controlled by a single, secure browser-based user interface. Other applications for this technology include elderly care, health care, industrial health and safety, and also in-prison tracking.

Studies show that electronic monitoring is a cost-effective means of employing the latest technology to improve public safety, reduce recidivism, and modify offender behaviour. Electronic monitoring is increasingly utilized around the globe. 3M has contracts to provide solutions in 43 states and in numerous countries around the world, including Colombia, Spain, France, Poland, the Netherlands, and Singapore, to name a few.

Some of the noteworthy 3M programs you may be aware of include California, which has the largest GPS program in the world and is tracking 5,000 offenders using 3M's system. Florida has the longest running GPS program in the world. It was our first customer, and it's tracking 2,700 sex and violent offenders on probation. Michigan has made widespread use of electronic monitoring, with a mix of radio frequency, GPS, and alcohol equipment to track and monitor approximately 5,000 offenders as an alternative to prison, and also for early release.

Spain has a unique program, which equips 750 domestic violence couples with GPS devices. In that case, the domestic violence victim also carries a tracking device like this so the victim can be alerted when the aggressor is in the area.

The use of electronic monitoring cannot prevent a crime. However, it is a very effective supervision tool, which allows trained officers to monitor offender compliance in near real time, identify and correct anomalies in offender activities, and aid in modifying offender behaviour.

A 2011 study conducted by Florida State University and sponsored by the National Institute of Justice, which is a government agency affiliated with the Department of Justice, concluded that electronic monitoring reduces offenders' risk of failure by 31%—that electronic monitoring based on GPS typically has more of an effect on reducing failure to comply than with RF systems.

When selecting a system or a vendor, much of the focus is placed on the tracking device. Tracking devices, while important, play the role of the data collection device, and I'd like to caution the committee that an effective electronic monitoring system is so much more than just the tracking device. It involves officer training, intuitive interface software, customized case management tools, backup systems, fully developed agency protocols, and ongoing expert support.

I thank you for the opportunity to discuss the benefits of electronic monitoring and the key elements that make up a successful program.

I will be pleased to answer any questions you may have.

3:35 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Kevin Sorenson

Thank you very much, sir.

We will now move into the first round of questioning.

We will go to Ms. Hoeppner, please, for seven minutes.

3:35 p.m.

Conservative

Candice Bergen Portage—Lisgar, MB

Thanks very much, Mr. Chair.

Thank you to both of our witnesses for being here.

We did the study a few months ago and so for some of us coming back to it is a bit of a refresher right now, and some of the comments you have made certainly have tweaked some questions we had previously.

We've heard some conflicting evidence, obviously from different witnesses, with some witnesses saying that electronic monitoring doesn't help in the rehabilitation of inmates, and we've heard, as you put it, that it's primarily a supervisory tool, which can help to ensure that offenders are complying with the conditions of their particular release.

You mentioned this briefly, but it is important that we hear a little more about a statement that you made that we need to recognize that electronic monitoring is not just the monitor itself. Could you go into a little more detail for us in terms of the education and training for supervisors and people who are tracking the monitors?

Could you also let us know what kind of monitoring is needed, from your experience? What hardware is needed for parole officers who are watching it?

Could you expand a little more—and it's great that you brought that device. Mr. Chair, I'm wondering if it would be possible to pass the device around so we could all have a look at it. It would be great to be able to hold it and see what it's like.

Could you talk about some of the other aspects and parts of electronic monitoring, other than the monitor itself?

3:35 p.m.

Vice-President, Track and Trace Solutions, 3M Company

Steve Chapin

First of all, I'd like to say that it is not one-size-fits-all. That's the reason I talk a lot about an integrated platform, where it's important to match the technology and the supervision level with the offender.

The system we provide is an all-encompassing system, so it is intended to be able to give an agency complete control over the monitoring of their offenders. We're very often putting these high-tech devices in the hands of people who are not necessarily experienced with high-tech equipment. The training becomes a very important aspect of the program and that's something 3M handles directly with our trained personnel.

The system is set up to be an exception-based reporting system, in that the officer, using the protocols defined by the agency, sets up rules for the offender. If the offender follows the rules, then there are no alerts sent out. If the offender violates any rule, then an alert is sent out to the agency, either by e-mail or text message, and using the protocols, the officer takes the appropriate action.

The data that is provided to the officer is location-based data, but also offender behavioural-type data, in that it gives the officer an indication of the behavioural patterns of the offender. Along with this, we can set up predictive types of scenarios, where we can identify offender behaviour that is not usual, behaviour that we haven't seen in the past, indicating that something might be happening. It's alerting the officer to a potential situation, if you will.

Something else we do is take the location of all of the offenders. We're tracking a population of offenders. We know where they are. Very often they are the usual suspects in crimes. We correlate the location of known offenders with the location of crime scenes, and we can place offenders at or near the scene of a crime. Almost as importantly, sometimes we can identify those offenders who were nowhere near the scene of the crime.

Something else that we discovered very early on in our program is this. We're not only monitoring offenders, but we're also monitoring the way, the manner, in which the officers utilize our system. For example, we ensure the officers are logging onto the system every day and looking at offenders' points. The officers have rules set up for offenders so that if the offenders do something, there's swift and certain action that can be taken by the officer to help change the offenders' behaviour.

Finally, and this is based on experience, we take steps to ensure that the messages we send out are actually received by the officers in charge of that offender. We had an unfortunate incident several years ago where our system worked perfectly when an offender went into an exclusion zone, an area where he was not allowed to go, and he ended up raping a little girl. We sent out the alert, but this was on New Year's Eve, and the officer slept through the alert. So now this is what we do. When the agency desires it, we require that the officer acknowledge the alert. If we don't receive that acknowledgement, we send out another alert to another officer, and we keep doing that until somebody responds.

3:40 p.m.

Conservative

Candice Bergen Portage—Lisgar, MB

So the alert actually goes to you, and then you notify or you let the law enforcement agency know. It's not that there's an alert that goes directly to the law enforcement agency. You remain part of the monitoring. Is that correct?

3:40 p.m.

Vice-President, Track and Trace Solutions, 3M Company

Steve Chapin

We don't intervene with the monitoring. The system is an automated system. We process the alerts automatically, but we process those without human intervention. The devices communicate with our facility, either our facility in Florida, or perhaps in the case of Canada, a local facility, a data centre, that we would set up. Those alerts are processed, and then based on how it is set up by the agency, the alerts go out to the officer, but there's no human intervention.

3:40 p.m.

Conservative

Candice Bergen Portage—Lisgar, MB

What's your cost per unit for one of these types of devices?

3:40 p.m.

Vice-President, Track and Trace Solutions, 3M Company

Steve Chapin

We typically work on a lease model, so we lease the units to the agency on a dollar per unit, per day basis. The agency only pays for units that are what we call “on leg”. They only pay for units that are being used, which allows the agency to very accurately budget what their utilization is going to be, what their costs are going to be.

The typical cost for the system, which includes the hardware, and all the services, and all the training, is $5 to $10 a day to the agency, and then on top of that, it's whatever agency costs there might be in terms of personnel.

The agency infrastructure is minimal. It's communication lines and computers. We set it up so that there are no additional costs.

3:45 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Kevin Sorenson

Thank you very much.

We'll now move over to the opposition side and Ms. Doré Lefebvre.

3:45 p.m.

NDP

Rosane Doré Lefebvre Alfred-Pellan, QC

Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.

I would like to thank Mr. Chapin for his explanations and his presentation.

I was not here when the study was done. You will have to excuse me, dear colleagues, if I repeat questions you have already asked. I am very interested in better understanding how these devices work. I am very intrigued by that.

In your presentation, you talked about the type of offenders for whom these devices were used. Usually, do people use these devices for high-risk offenders or minimum-risk offenders?

3:45 p.m.

Vice-President, Track and Trace Solutions, 3M Company

Steve Chapin

Typically, the agencies using our devices are putting them on the high-risk offenders already in our community, in order to add an additional layer of public safety. However, from a purely technological perspective, we're capable of tracking the full gamut of offenders from juveniles right up to the worst sex offenders.

3:45 p.m.

NDP

Rosane Doré Lefebvre Alfred-Pellan, QC

Okay.

In the premise of the study, the possibility of using them for immigration control was also mentioned. Would it be plausible to use this type of device to control immigration in a country?

3:45 p.m.

Vice-President, Track and Trace Solutions, 3M Company

Steve Chapin

There is no technical reason why it could not be used for immigration.

3:45 p.m.

NDP

Rosane Doré Lefebvre Alfred-Pellan, QC

In that case, it could be a question of cost. You talked about a dollar a day per device used. Is that right?