Warning: Memphis shuts down GPS tracking of accused violent offenders due to lack of funding

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MEMPHIS, TN – Many families and individuals are experiencing the financials hardships associated with the pandemic, but the financial impact doesn’t only exist in one’s home.

Due to the virus, the Memphis Police Department has had to cease their ankle-monitoring program because their funds have been decimated.

Now, accused criminals out on bond for some serious crimes are no longer being tracked via GPS.

The MPD recently issued a letter that was sent to criminal court judges within their jurisdiction, which noted the following:

“The COVID-19 pandemic has negatively impacted the MPD budget and due to constraints, all GPS devices which were related to the program were deactivated effectively May 1, 2020.”

These GPS monitoring devices were used on the likes of accused violent criminals who managed to make bond prior to their criminal cases going to court. The monitoring served as a safeguard to make sure alleged offenders weren’t going to places they shouldn’t be – like the homes and workplaces of witnesses and victims.

But these ankle monitors, and the staff needed to support and monitor activity, all cost money.

MPD Chief Don Crowe noted that the program, which started three years earlier, proved to be successful. However, he was aware that this program was initially funded via grant money and that it wouldn’t last forever.

Chief Crowe’s initial plan was to phase the GPS monitoring out, bit by bit, since there wasn’t a sustainable long-term model to support funding. He even allocated $140,000 from the fiscal budget this year to assist in that smooth transition.

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Then, the pandemic hit, and changed the entire plan.

Instead of being able to have a phasing out of the program, Chief Crowe said the MPD was put into a position where they had to enact an abrupt stop:

“The idea was as court cases were disposed of, just gradually let it drop off, but what we saw in April, no cases were disposed of.”

There were reportedly over 6,000 alleged offenders adorning said tracking devices as of April 6th. One of those who was being monitored was Leroy Hester, who police say kidnapped a victim at gunpoint.

Warning: Memphis shuts down GPS tracking of accused violent offenders due to lack of funding
Leroy Hester

Another one of those who was under monitoring was Terry Glissen, who is facing charges of two counts of aggravated assault and domestic assault – bodily harm. Court records allege that Glissen had choked his victim during the act.

Yet, Glissen was the subject of one of the letters sent to various judges pertaining to the GPS monitoring program ending. With being prefaced with the details about the program funding issue, the letter details the following:

“Terry Jefferson Glissen is no longer under GPS supervision, but will continue to be supervised by the Shelby County Pretrial Services Intensive Unit, which will include but not limited to OV, phone contact, programming and RDS as court ordered.”

Judge Chris Craft is a criminal court judge for the Shelby County Criminal Court Division VIII, which is where the letter pertaining to Glissen’s device removal was addressed to. Based upon the alleged actions of the accused, Judge Craft voiced concerns over the victim in his case:

“Now we have to worry about the alleged victims, that something may happen to them, particularly since she’s the only witness to his trying to kill her.”

Warning: Memphis shuts down GPS tracking of accused violent offenders due to lack of funding
Terry Glissen

According to Shelby County District Attorney Amy Weirich, the DA’s office in concurrence with local police had been informing victims in tandem with the notification of judges about this program being shut down.

Still, DA Weirich thinks that funding for the GPS monitoring needs to be scrounged up somewhere. To her, the program’s lack of existence could literally mean the difference between life and death for victims:

“To me, somebody needs to pick up the $600,000 to keep this program going, because in the end, these can save lives.”

The MPD feels that the state of Tennessee should consider adopting a GPS monitoring program statewide for pre-trial releases, which could serve as budgetary workaround.

Hopefully some sort of resolute is achieved.

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