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“The lack of criminal enforcement combined with the ease of cutting devices has made cutting GPS devices a significant problem,” the report says. It goes on to note that DYRS “often returns absconders who tamper with GPS devices to the same or similar community placements with another device, even after multiple tampering incidents.”

As recently as August, Metropolitan Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier issued internal guidance to officers on how to properly document cases of GPS tampering.

The attorney general’s office, which handles most youth prosecutions, was unable to say Tuesday how often such charges are brought against juveniles.

In one instance in the District last year, a DYRS ward with a history of attempting to thwart electronic monitoring — including wrapping one device with aluminum foil in an attempt to interfere with its signal — let the battery drain on his ankle bracelet the day after receiving it.

An hour later, a witness placed Kevon Austin near the scene of a fatal shooting around Gallaudet University in Northeast, and prosecutors charged him with the homicide. Another witness described hearing Mr. Austin talk about killing the man in the days before the shooting, but prosecutors ultimately dropped the charges against him with no explanation.

The devices are used by other D.C. departments to oversee offenders and those on probation or pretrial release — agencies that have seen similar issues with crimes committed by those to whom the devices were assigned.

A 19-year-old man facing charges in connection with a March shooting that injured 13 people on North Capitol Street was at the time of the incident wearing a GPS device assigned by the District’s Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency.

In an agency response to the inspector general’s report, DYRS officials defended a number of their practices — including what investigators called a “lack of around the clock coverage” by staff.

Officials said DYRS staff receive alerts by cellphone and provide “on call” coverage during nights and weekends. Officials told investigators that staff employed by the agency’s GPS unit are “dedicated employees who are willing to assist when needed, even whey they are not officially on duty.”

But in instances when a juvenile has walked away from agency supervision or has removed a monitor, staff must return to the agency’s office to assist in locating the youth because they are not provided with technology that would allow them to work remotely.

“The time that a GPS unit member expends returning to DYRS’s office may make locating absconders increasingly difficult,” the report states. “Delays in response time make it more likely that GPS batteries will die, giving an absconder time to remove the device, and in some instances, give an absconder an opportunity to commit a crime before being located.”

Among other findings, the report criticizes DYRS for providing no clear criteria outlining when a youth should be assigned a GPS device or have one removed and for leaving that decision to case managers.

Some of the staffers assign the devices simply to monitor the whereabouts of youths, while other see it as a way to modify a juvenile’s behavior, the report says.

In their response, DYRS officials write that a standardized or a one-size-fits-all approach would not work because “treatment needs and progress play a significant factor in determining when GPS is needed and can be discounted.”