Electronic monitoring failure investigated

911 staff wasn’t alerted about burglar

Staff members at the 911 Emergency
Communications Centre were not notified as they should have been about a man
who ditched his electronic monitoring tag and allegedly broke into a George
Town home last week. The 29-year-old man, Harryton (aka Harrington) Rivers,
ended up being shot to death inside a home on Liguinea Circle by an elderly
resident.

 “I can confirm (911 staff) weren’t alerted,”
said Eric Bush, deputy chief officer of the Portfolio of Internal and External
Affairs, which has responsibility for law enforcement matters in Cayman. “We
need to find out why.”

Mr. Bush said the electronic
monitoring tag assigned to Mr. Rivers had been taken off and left at another
location. Royal Cayman Islands Police officers later recovered the device.

The electronic monitoring system,
which began operating in Cayman in January, is a ‘passive monitor’ system –
which means staff members at 911 are not looking at the readouts that monitor
‘tagged’ prisoners 24/7.

The system is designed so that if
there’s a problem with one of the monitors, for instance if a ‘tagged’
individual wanders outside the area he or she is allowed to go, 911 employees
are supposed to be immediately notified and alert police to the area where the
electronic tag is located.

The alarm would also be activated
if someone removed their electronic monitor or if they allowed it to run out of
batteries.

In the case of the reported break-in
at the home on Liguinea Circle, 911 staff was only notified about the incident
by a 2am call from the homeowner after the shooting had taken place – after Mr.
Rivers’ monitor had been removed.

Mr. Bush and 911 Manager Brent
Finster could not provide any reason why that was the case.

Mr. Bush said the Portfolio planned
to bring in an outside expert to review the incident and also how the entire
electronic monitoring system is working.

“(It’s) basically an overseas …
objective expert in electronic monitoring. So he has no connection to the
vendor (of the electronic monitoring system) or the operators here,” Mr. Bush
said.

The consultant would also look at
how Mr. Rivers managed to get out of his monitor, which is attached the
subject’s right or left ankle in all cases. 

A number of issues have arisen
since electronic monitoring was introduced in January, but overall Mr. Finster
said in an interview earlier this year that the system was working fairly well.

Mr. Finster said there have been
incidents “almost daily” with monitored individuals stepping outside the areas
in which they are allowed to travel. Some events have been simple accidents
while others have led to re-arrest.

For instance, in one recent court
case a teenager charged with theft had been taken back into custody because his
electronic ankle bracelet had activated while he was near his home.

Police were alerted and the teen
was found in his yard. He didn’t understand why he had to stay in the house,
according to court testimony.
  

The boy was released on bail and
with a new electronic monitor still attached. He appeared again the next week,
this time on a charge of burglary.
  

According to Chief Magistrate
Margaret Ramsay-Hale: “At your trial the people who monitor your tag will say you
were at the place where the burglary was committed…. You are tagged – I know
every minute of the day where you are.”
  

Apparently, the allegation is that
the teen had committed the burglary while being monitored. The magistrate
ordered that the teen be remanded in custody and his tag removed so it can be
used with someone else “who has a chance to succeed in the community”. 

In another instance, this time in
March, a man was arrested by the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service at the
scene of a killing in West Bay after his electronic monitor had gone off.

Police said the man had wandered
away from his area of confinement after hearing about the shooting of Damion
Ming.

Compass reporter Carol Winker contributed to this story.

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