A government fleet in Connecticut, the Department of Children and Families (DCF), is considering adding GPS tracking devices to its entire 800 vehicle fleet. DCF Commissioner Joette Katz estimated the GPS fleet tracking devices will save the state nearly $250,000 in the first year by being able to prove misuse of vehicles, verify overtime hours and save 20 percent on fuel consumption, the CT Mirror reported.
“Anytime you add additional oversight you reap some benefits and efficiencies,” said Cindy Butterfield, budget chief of the $872 million agency. The agency proposes cutting overtime by 10 percent for a savings of $1.7 million next year, and Butterfield said GPS fleet tracking devices will help DCF do that.
“GPS tracking adds another layer of safety,” Butterfield further stated of her social workers, who travel to strangers’ homes daily to investigate unsafe living conditions for children.
A few years ago, then-Gov. M. Jodi Rell added bumper stickers to many of the state vehicles that ask citizens to complain online if they see unsafe driving or notice that a vehicle is not where they think it should be. Because those stickers have led to a wave of accusations that are hard to prove, Katz said that GPS tracking devices will allow the department to immediately prove or disprove them.
And in the cases of incidents that officials determine deserve an investigation, Butterfield said that employees should have no problem justifying where the GPS devices report they were. “They are very good at documenting where they go,” she said.
If the proposal were to be enacted, nearly one-quarter of the state’s 3,243-vehicle fleet could be tracked.
Mrs. Butterfield said she got the idea for this proposal at DCF from Oak Hill, Connecticut’s largest nonprofit agency, which provides services for those with intellectual and physical disabilities.
When one of Oak Hill’s employees was accused of injuring a client while driving him to an appointment, Patrick Johnson, President of Oak Hill, was able to disprove the allegation immediately by using the GPS tracking software, which showed that the vehicle never stopped so the driver could commit the alleged offense.
“GPS tracking is a real safety and protection for our employees,” said Mr. Johnson. The GPS tracking device — attached to the engines of all 184 of his vans — also shows in real time online the vehicle’s location, and notifies him if the driver exceeds the speed limit by more than 5 mph.
Working together with families and communities to improve child safety, ensure that more children have permanent families, and advance the overall well-being of children is the central focus of the Department of Children and Families (DCF). DCF protects children who are being abused or neglected, strengthens families through support and advocacy, and builds on existing family and community strengths to help children who are facing emotional and behavioral challenges, including those committed to the Department by the juvenile justice system.