Break-in suspect able to move freely
The electronic monitoring device
that was supposed to be attached to burglary suspect Harryton Rivers-Valdespino’s
ankle was still functioning when it was found in his home by police on
Thursday, 22 July.
However, that was after
Rivers-Valdespino was shot to death inside the home of a 65-year-old George
Town resident during an apparent attempt to burgle the house.
The reason the device did not alert
authorities at the 911 Emergency Communications Centre is because – as far as
they were aware – it was located inside the residence where Rivers-Valdespino
was supposed to be staying. They just didn’t know it was no longer attached to
the ankle of the man they were monitoring.
According to officials with the
Portfolio of Internal and External Affairs, the electronic tag assigned to
Rivers-Valdespino had alerted the 911 centre on 19 July. That was about two days
before the alleged burglary on Liguinea Circle.
Those alerts will typically occur
when an individual who is being monitored moves outside their designated area,
forgets to keep the device charged, or attempts to take the monitor off.
“Electronic Monitoring Centre
personnel had dispatched RCIPS (Royal Cayman Islands Police Service) personnel
to the location of Mr. Rivers and, upon arrival, officers reported that the
device was found securely affixed to Mr. Rivers’ ankle,” a press release from
the Portfolio read.
No other alerts were reported from
that particular device following the 19 July alert to 911.
Portfolio officials did not respond
to questions about whether or how the responding officers examined the
monitoring device on the 19th.
“The device had clearly been
tampered with,” the statement read, adding that it was initially installed
properly by the 911 centre staff.
Deputy Chief Officer of the
Portfolio of Internal and External Affairs Eric Bush said that installation and
inspection procedures for the monitoring devices had been changed to “improve
the integrity of the programme and thwart future tampering attempts” with the
electronic monitoring devices.
The monitoring programme itself
would continue full-steam, Mr. Bush said.
“I have every confidence that the
programme is being managed properly,” he said. “The Electronic Monitoring
Programme is vital to combat crime and make our community safer.”
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. Those readouts are basically single lines on a computer
screen which show the status of the individual’s monitor.
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.
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.
Mr. Bush said a US-based law
enforcement consultant, George Drake, was brought in over the past weekend to
examine Cayman’s electronic monitoring system. He forensically examined the
monitor assigned to Rivers-Valdespino and also met with the company which
manufactured the devices.