Addressing the Problem
The Task Force was established five years ago to monitor the actions of the felons. Detective Mike Powers of the Alachua County Sheriff's Office has been a member since the beginning.
"When we first started out, it was the City of Gainesville and Alachua County working in conjunction with each other," Powers said. "Then we just kept gathering agencies as we went along."
Tuesday night's "Address Verification Detail" included 27 men and women from state, county and city agencies, who meet every couple of months to conduct a random check with felons living in the area.
"The Alachua County Sheriff's Office, the Gainesville Police Department, Florida Parole and Probation, and all the other surrounding agencies, including High Springs, Alachua and the University Police Departments, all have officers who do this on a daily basis," Powers explained.
The purpose of the detail is to verify existing information of these felons and gather as much new information as possible. Detective Leah Hayes maintains a database for the G.P.D. that includes permanent and temporary addresses, employment information, vehicle data and known phone numbers as well as their files and records.
"They know that we're watching them," Hayes said. "Hopefully, this makes them less likely to violate their probation or re-offend."
According to Hayes, the main purpose of the detail is not necessarily to catch them doing something wrong but to make sure they continue to ensure they continue to do things right.
"It's always good to know that they're in compliance and they're doing what they're supposed to be doing," she said.
If they're not where they are supposed to be or doing what they are supposed to be doing however, Powers said that is when their job is just beginning.
"It's our job to find them, and it's our job to keep them in compliance with state statute and city ordnance," Powers warned. "But if they're not in compliance, we're gonna charge them."
By Ted Latiak, WCJB TV20News.
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