CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Chief Kerr Putney announced Friday that the department would be ending the electronic GPS monitoring system for homicide suspects.
According to CMPD, the department is currently monitoring 463 suspects who have been ordered by a judge or magistrate to wear a monitoring device as a condition of their pre-trial release, including 31 people charged with murder.
To date, 127 of those out on electronic monitors have cut theirs off and ran - with 18 still being sought. Around 100 people have committed another crime while being monitored, officials said, including one murder.
Chief Putney said those numbers create a public safety issue, and he’s made the decision to do what he can to stop it.
“A better place for them is being in jail, awaiting trial,” Putney said during Friday’s press conference. “We can’t in good faith allow for our people to monitor people charged with murder.”
Putney added that the department was looking into ways to be “more strategic” when it comes to handling other violent offenders as well. He said that CMPD is assessing ending the monitoring program for armed robbery suspects, as well as other suspects in other violent crimes such as sexual assaults.
Putney said then that the department was considering pulling out of the electronic monitoring program. Now that they have, it’s unclear what the court system will do.
In the past, Chief Putney has been critical of judges who have set bonds low enough to allow defendants accused of violent crimes to bond out. In late November, Putney said the criminal justice system was flawed.
“The bigger issue is if you don’t break the cycle of violence it’s going to continue," Putney said in November. "The other people are the other criminal justice partners they have to step up, hold these repeat violent offenders accountable.”
Mothers Of Murdered Offspring (MOMO), a local group that supports the families of homicide victims, is questioning the chief’s decision because they’re worried that won’t happen. The group believes having no monitoring device may send the wrong message to grieving families.
Genecia Hairston, memorial coordinator for MOMO, says she wants to know if there is an “option B.” She believes that leaving murder suspects in jail is a good choice - but she wonders what will happen if a suspect is released with no way of police keeping track them.
“That sends a fearful panic for these families - the victims’ families - is there a little bit of compassion and empathy for them, because in some cases the suspects are able to make bond,” Hairston said.
Three years ago Hairston’s sister was murdered, and she says she couldn’t imagine the possibility of the killer being set free without an ankle monitor. She thinks there should be thought around this plan.
Despite some criticism, the chief said during Friday’s press conference, that the decision to end the program for murder suspects was something he felt needed done.
“It’s my decision,” Putney said. “I have a responsibility to the public, it’s on me.”