Rally in favor of GPS monitoring planned for Ohio capitol

Paulette Propst

Robbi Zakowski’s mission began in 2011, when her friend Paulette Propst was murdered by her estranged husband.

Zakowski said if Propst’s husband had been monitored by GPS, she would have been notified when he was close to her home, and could have taken steps to protect herself. Instead, Propst had no warning, Zakowski said.

“It was terrible, terrible,” she said. “It left four children behind, without parents.”

Zakowski is organizing a rally on May 12 at the west plaza of the Statehouse in Columbus in support of legislation requiring GPS monitoring for people accused of domestic violence.

People whose loved ones have been killed in domestic violence incidents are encouraged to bring an 8x10 framed photo to the event, where they will get a chance to introduce their family member, Zakowski said.

Attendees are also asked to wear masks, she said.

Zakowski is expecting between 500 and 1,000 attendees.

Last year, a bill was introduced in the Ohio House to allow judges to include GPS monitoring with protection orders, and allow law enforcement to alert those protected by an order when the other person has violated the order. The bill did not pass before the end of the session.

“We’ve got to get this done,” Zakowski said.

State Rep. Sarah Fowler Arthur, whose district includes most of Ashtabula County, said she had been in contact with Zakowski over the last six months.

“What we discovered in reviewing Ohio law is that Ohio already has a GPS monitoring  system, and that has been in use for multiple years,” Fowler Arthur said. “It’s an option of the judges’ to require it. I think what (Zakowski) is wanting is for a victim notification. And that portion we are still researching, and trying to figure out if it’s feasible, and who would do the notification, and what kind of liability would be involved.”

Fowler Arthur said she plans to attend the May 12 event and supports Zakowski’s idea.

“I applaud her efforts, and I hope we can find a way that is more protecting and yet that is actually enforceable,” Fowler said.

The event is being put on by Women Helping Women. Zakowski said she will be a minimal presence there.

“I will not be mentioned at the [event], purposely,” she said. “I’m staying down low. Pauline was my dear friend. I’ve done this for her and others, and this isn’t about Robbi, this is about a group of people called Women Helping Women that has had this mission for years. And they’re tired and they’re banded together stronger than ever now.”

It has been almost 10 years since Propst was killed. 

In the past, Zakowski organized an event called Christmas in the Barn, intended to raise money for victims of domestic violence. She said the site of the event was sold recently, and that Christmas in the Barn will not continue.

“So now, we are just focusing solely on this event, and trying to get the bill done, trying to get through with that,” Zakowski said.

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