For community corrections agencies, selecting an electronic monitoring provider is a critical decision involving a long-term commitment with a partner to support your public safety efforts. The following are nine important considerations when selecting your next electronic monitoring provider.
OEM: How and where does the electronic monitoring company manufacture its products? Geographic manufacturing locations and production processes vary widely. You want the company you work with to stand behind the product you purchase or lease. The more involved they are—from research and design to manufacturing and production—the more control they have over product and delivery.
Product and Service Continuum: Offender risks and needs vary and budgets are finite, so a one-size-fits-all approach for electronic monitoring supervision is not realistic today. Instead, you may want a system that is more intensive, such as a GPS tracking system; or one that is less intensive but does an excellent job of tracking schedules and curfews, such as a radio-frequency system; or a system designed for alcohol abusers, such as transdermal alcohol monitoring. The most valuable EM provider offers a range of products and services to meet different offender classifications and budgets.
Commitment to R & D: Four decades ago, Intel co-founder Gordon E. Moore said the power of computing doubles every two years. Today, that cycle may be even shorter. Technology is advancing rapidly, and you must evaluate whether an electronic monitoring provider partner is committed to advancing with this rapid pace, and whether they bring new ideas to the offender supervision market. Don’t get stuck with a one-trick pony that can’t keep up when technology advances.
Track Record: How many agencies do they work with? What types of agencies do they have contracts with? What is their product and service reliability record? How long have they been in the industry? How long has the call center been operating, and what is its customer service record? These and other experience-related questions will help clarify the electronic monitoring company’s abilities.
Technical Support: Technical support often comes in the form of a national monitoring center. These experts can help set up or manage offender supervision strategies with you and provide specific technical product support. Specialists in BI’s Monitoring Operations Center, a leading call center in the industry, have an average length of service of nine years. Reliable, stable, and knowledgeable support contributes heavily to the success of an electronic monitoring program.
Financial Stability: Several electronic monitoring manufacturers exist in the market today, but only a handful is financially stable. Correctional agencies should choose a provider that is financially strong. Look closely at the company’s financial stability and whether it is part of a reliable parent organization.
Transparency: When you are selecting—or working with—an electronic monitoring provider, ask tough questions and demand the highest quality products and services. If the answers to your questions seem selective and not forthcoming, be wary. Your electronic monitoring provider should be direct, honest and transparent with all facets of the products and services you are leasing or buying.
References: An electronic monitoring provider will obviously have a well-rehearsed list of reasons you should select them, but they must also be willing to provide a number of credible customer references. Ask to speak with an agency similar in program size and scope, and ask detailed questions about the provider’s capabilities, strengths and weaknesses.
Intangibles: While creating an objective list of selection criteria is a must, there is also the “gut check” factor to consider. Before you select a vendor, consider whether this is the type of company you want to work with long term. In public safety, nothing is cut and dry. The company you select must be a good partner in achieving your community supervision goals, and that often comes down to trust.