LANCASTER – The City of Lancaster’s Law Enforcement Aerial Platform System (LEAPS) has been putting in serious work during the past week, according to city officials.
“While Lancaster residents enjoyed their holiday festivities with family and friends, the City’s innovative crime-fighting tool assisted Sheriff Deputies and State Parole Authorities in apprehending criminals,” reads a city news release issued Thursday.
On December 22, just days before Christmas, a registered sex offender monitored via GPS was determined missing because he failed to report to his parole officer. The parolee claimed to be sleeping in the desert, when Valley temperatures reached into the teens, making that scenario unlikely.
An alert went out on Saturday morning (Dec. 22), informing the California Parole Division that the monitored parolee had in fact been out all night, requiring the launch of an investigation.
California State Adult Parole Operations Supervisor Larry Dorsey drove out to the five-acre search area and determined it to be inaccessible via ground unit. Dorsey then called the Lancaster Sheriff’s Station to enlist the aid of the Law Enforcement Aerial Platform System in order to get a broad scope view of the parolee’s reported whereabouts.
With aerial eyes covering the five-acre expanse, the State of California Parole Division and Lancaster Sheriff Deputies were able to maximize law enforcement resources in alternate areas and, ultimately, apprehend the registered sex offender in another location.
Dorsey said the parolee’s name is Eugene Kato. Kato, 50, was arrested around 9:15 a.m. Monday for violating his parole and booked at the Lancaster Station without bail.
“Law enforcement officers were able to locate this paroled registered sex offender in a short period of time due to the assistance of LEAPS,” Dorsey said in a city news release. “With this tool being able to scour the desert from above, personnel was redirected to other possible locations, maximizing our resources, and leading to the swift retrieval of this parole violator. LEAPS is a great resource to have in such situations.”
LEAPS was also used on Dec. 21 to track a burglary suspect running from the scene of a crime called in as a burglary-in-progress. Deputies followed the sight-on-criminal directions provided by the LEAPS dispatch crew, and subsequently identified a residence into which the suspect ran and hid.
After containing and evacuating the residence, deputies searching the premises and arrested the harbored suspect as he emerged from a bedroom. The suspect later confessed to the attempted burglary.
“LEAPS accomplishments as a law enforcement tool continue to expand, proving its worth with every successful effort,” said Lancaster Mayor R. Rex Parris in a city news release. “These two recent apprehensions show just how valuable LEAPS is in serving and protecting our city and its residents.”
(Information via press release from the city of Lancaster.)