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CMPD Pilot Project Targets 'Priority Offenders' With Ankle Monitors

http://66.225.205.104/JR20120302.mp3

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police today nabbed a man who cut off his court-ordered ankle bracelet Wednesday and ran. Some 375 people are currently under CMPD surveillance by electronic monitors. Most of them are awaiting trial. But ten - including the man captured today - are on probation with the state department of corrections and part of a pilot project aimed at "priority offenders." CMPD Sergeant Dave Scheppegrell makes getting into the department's "priority offender" project sound like a big honor. "The patrol divisions and detectives nominate somebody and if they're accepted into the program, then they're given special attention," says Scheppegrell. Nominations go to offenders with long rap sheets that police want to keep an extra eye on. If one of the offenders on the priority list ends up in jail, CMPD works with the judge and NC Department of Corrections to make sure the offender wears an ankle bracelet after release. People on probation are typically tracked by the state and may or may not wear an electronic monitor. CMPD thought it could do better and Scheppegrell says about two years ago, the department took over monitoring for probationers on the priority list. "Everyday we look at every point where an offender's been during the day and we compare that to where a crime occurred, so we can very quickly say 'Oh, this person was at the scene of a house break-in,'" says Scheppegrell. Priority offenders on probation are a small subset of CMPD's total electronic monitoring population. Cutting the monitor off can bring a felony charge for priority offenders on probation. That's what Tomonta Simmons will face. He's the priority offender police caught this week. It was the second time since November that Simmons had cut off his ankle monitor. Common as it may seem, Scheppegrell says only two percent of people in CMPD's electronic monitoring program cut off the devices.