In an alarming story that aired on KOB-TV just days ago, KOB reporter Chris Ramirez found that the 2nd Judicial District Court’s Pretrial Services Division does not actively monitor the GPS data from defendants who are released from jail ahead of their trial and ordered to wear an ankle monitor.
We’ve shared the disastrous consequences before: back in April, Devin Munford, arrested for shooting a firearm while driving and released with an ankle monitor, shot and killed a man. And in May, Angello Charley, arrested for sexual assault and also released with an ankle monitor, used social media to meet up and attempt to rape a 15-year-old girl.
In both cases, law enforcement and the District Attorney’s Office were in the dark until well after the fact that the defendants had traveled outside of the court-mandated areas in which they were supposed to remain. Both incidents happened over a weekend and raised serious bigger questions over whether ankle monitors are being monitored at all.
In fact, KOB reported that time cards and office surveillance video from the Pretrial Services Division show no employees work on holidays, weekends, or even evenings. When the GPS data comes in at night or on the weekend to show a defendant has moved beyond their approved GPS boundaries, there’s no one there to see it and take the next step to alert law enforcement or the District Attorney’s Office.
In response to questions about this glaring hole, a spokesman had this to say: “If an alert is generated because someone enters an exclusion zone, either during normal business hours or at night or on a weekend, Pretrial Services will file a report of the alleged violation with the judge and to both the prosecuting and defense attorneys within 24 hours of receiving notification of the alert. Pretrial services staff receive alerts that occur at night or on the weekends the following business day.”
Of course, crime doesn’t only happen on business days, and neither should crime prevention. It’s certainly the Chamber’s position that GPS movements of serious offenders released from jail pre-trial should be monitored actively and in real time; alerts must be sent to the right parties – law enforcement and/or the DA’s Office – when defendants leave their approved boundaries.
In a city with persistently high crime that overwhelms understaffed law enforcement agencies, it’s disappointing, to say the least, to hear crime-fighting technology and systems aren’t being used to their fullest capacity – even after this year’s headlines showed the deadly consequences of insufficient supervision.
If there are developments on this issue, we’ll be sure to bring them to you.