Memphis police have new weapon in the fight against domestic violence and sex crimes.
The Memphis City Council, Tuesday, approved nearly $900,000 to pay for more than 800 GPS tracking devices, which will be used to track offenders and protect victims.
Interim Memphis Police Director Mike Rallings says 18% of the homicides his department has handled this year are due to domestic violence. He expects GPS trackers to help decrease that number.
“I have no doubt it’s going to save lives,” said Rallings.
Major Don Crowe of MPD’s Sex Crimes Division says it was a GPS tracking bracelet that helped confirm former officer Joshua Barnes was violating an order of protection against him filed by his ex-girlfriend.
“It didn’t prevent him, but it enhanced our ability to catch him and to find out what he was doing,” said Crowe.
The devices are monitored 24 hours a day by a private company called Sentinel.
Advancements in the GPS technology have improved so much the monitors can track a person wearing a bracelet within three feet of where they stand.
“Once the suspect enters the buffer zone an alert is sent out and we start watching that suspect in real time to see what his intentions are,” said Crowe.
Then, there’s the exclusion zone, considered striking distance to the victim. That’s when Crowe says police are dispatched to investigate.
Rallings is counting on it.
“We can keep those victims safe from being attacked or assaulted by these individuals,” said Rallings.
This is a three year pilot program for MPD.
Based upon particulars of the case, Pretrial Services will recommend GPS tracking to the judicial commissioner, who then makes the device part of the bail conditions.