While the employees at 2 Watch Monitoring are hired to examine the movements of others, they are reminded everyday at 9 a.m. that they, too, are being watched.
Lui Leasiolagi, the company’s president and CEO, said the fact that the firm’s employees are all Christians is what truly unites them as a team. So, at 9 a.m. daily, the company’s employees are welcomed to join in prayer.
Religion plays a role in Leasiolagi’s business because he believes it is going to take more than an anklet to help the company’s participants. These “participants” are criminals who either voluntarily wear monitoring anklets to prove they are not in certain areas, or more likely, are ordered to wear the anklets in order to get out of jail.
“We pray a lot for those offenders that come through,” Leasiolagi said. “We treat them well and with respect.”
The company has two different styles of anklets. One version monitors a participant’s movements, while the other also monitors whether a participant consumes any alcohol. The management team is looking at acquiring another version that would track drug use as well.
The Tacoma-based business also offers drug and alcohol testing services. However, 2 Watch workers do not arrest those who break their restrictions. The employees are hired only to observe the participants and report their findings.
These services are meant to keep sex offenders away from school zones, for example, and keep those who committed domestic violence crimes out of specific areas. They also serve as alternatives to jail or prison terms, which made them popular during the recent legislative session when lawmakers sought ways to cut incarceration costs.
Imad Bahbah, vice president of business development, said the company provided lawmakers budget-saving ideas. But he stressed these options would also be able to provide peace of mind for the community.
According to 2 Watch officials, it costs about $15 a day for a participant to wear one of the monitoring anklets, just a fraction when compared to the $60 to $90 a day it costs to have someone incarcerated.
It appears with the budget crunch, now more than ever, lawmakers were in need of the options this company provides.
But having this cost saving advantage is not enough. People have to know about what the company offers, and that’s an obstacle the management team continues to tackle. The entire company seeks to educate not only potential participants, but those in the legal and political systems about their offerings.
They also want it to be known that the reports can be tailored to the different courts requesting them.
Second Watch was started in 2002. In July 2008, Leasiolagi assembled his team, took over the company and changed its name to 2 Watch. He said his investment seems to be paying off as the company’s growth rate from last year to this year was 60 percent.
The company recently moved from Lakewood to downtown Tacoma, which puts it only a block from the county/city courthouse and jail. It is in a 3,300-square-foot facility.
Leasiolagi and his team also plan to add satellite offices throughout the state as demand grows. Plans to expand outside of Washington are already being implemented, which includes a recent Arizona office opening.
The company currently has 80 participants with anklets, but has the capability to monitor an unlimited number. The management team’s goal for the end of this year is to hit one thousand anklet monitoring devices going at one time.
One thing Bahbah stressed was that 2 Watch differentiates itself from many competitors because it uses active technology that tracks in real time.
In fact, the monitors can even speak to participants through a cell phone like device on the anklets. If a person is crossing into the wrong territory or tries to tamper with the device they are able to be contacted immediately.
“Watching them finish the program makes it worth it,” Leasiolagi said.