Earlier this year in Muskegon Cunty, Michigan, rumors were spreading that city employees were not working when and where they said they were. A county judge, John Ruck, became suspect after hearing rumors that a handful of city employees were misusing city vehicles and decided to take action.
He rallied enough support and money from the county and the state to purchase several vehicle GPS tracking systems. Ruck then ordered someone to install the GPS tracking systems inconspicuously in the trunk of several county owned vehicles. The GPS tracking systems started gathering information in June.
Court administrators reviewed the vehicle tracking system data for several weeks looking for discrepancies. According to Ruck the process was simple – look at the employee’s time card and where the car they checked out was located.
Then lo and behold, the GPS tracking system data revealed that three county workers were not working while on the clock. One spent several hours at a golf course, another at the gym. Both resigned when confronted about the abuse last week. A third employee, whose error was not as egregious, is going to be disciplined.
Using GPS systems to track employees is not new. In fact, in Muskegon County many public works trucks have tracking devices mounted under the dash. Public Works Director Jerry Bartoszek says county employees know they’re being tracked. In fact some actually welcome it.
The GPS tracking often resolves complaints. Bartoszek says city snow plow drivers are often accused of missing streets. When the GPS information is reviewed it almost always show a resident was just looking for an extra pass on their street.
When asked if Muskegon County has the right to track employees’ movement in county owned or leased cars, Muskegon Attorney David Shafer said without hesitation, “Yes.” In Shafer’s legal opinion what the county did is no different than a parent placing a GPS unit in the truck of the family car to see where their children are going.
The GPS tracking devices are paid for, and Judge Ruck said he expects to continue using the devices in the future.