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Charlottetown police want P.E.I. government to open their access to crime-monitoring devices

There are 20 people in Charlottetown wearing electronic ankle bracelets, which are monitored 24/7 by staff with P.E.I.'s Community and Correctional Services. (Stephanie Kelly/CBC - image credit)
There are 20 people in Charlottetown wearing electronic ankle bracelets, which are monitored 24/7 by staff with P.E.I.'s Community and Correctional Services. (Stephanie Kelly/CBC - image credit)

Charlottetown's police chief wants the P.E.I. government to give his department access to more information from crime-tracking tools like ankle monitor bracelets.

Chief Brad MacConnell made the plea after the city's police force arrested a suspect in two break-and-enter incidents earlier this week.

Once officers became aware that the suspect was wearing an electronic monitoring bracelet, they had to contact the province's probation services to confirm his whereabouts at the locations.

"Certainly that is concerning to everyone — how can this happen if the offender is released into the community under electronic supervision?" MacConnell said Thursday. "I certainly would be hoping we can open up dialogue with the province in giving police greater access to the tools so we can further support this program."

Charlottetown police Chief Brad MacConnell says officers could respond more quickly to incidents if they have expanded access to electronic monitoring tools.
Charlottetown police Chief Brad MacConnell says officers could respond more quickly to incidents if they have expanded access to electronic monitoring tools.

Charlottetown police Chief Brad MacConnell says officers could respond more quickly to incidents if they have expanded access to electronic monitoring tools. (Tony Davis/CBC)

At about 11 p.m. Tuesday, police received a report from a woman who said she had been in bed inside her Water Street apartment when she heard the balcony door open. She saw the man in her kitchen and was able to provide a good description of him.

The man left the apartment but stole a winter jacket, police said.

A few hours later, another call came in from a resident of Sydney Street about a man on the deck of their home. Police said the man left without trying to get inside.

Using video surveillance footage from the Sydney Street incident, police were able to determine that the same individual had entered the woman's apartment on Water Street.

Police located the suspect on Prince Street at around 1:20 a.m. Wednesday. Police said he was wearing an electronic monitoring bracelet, and because of it, they were able to confirm he was at both locations earlier in the night.

MacConnell said the electronic monitoring system is effective in preventing crimes, but not always. The suspect in Tuesday night's incidents has 17 prior property-related convictions on his record.

"A lot of times we know these offenders and their habits very well," he said. "So anything we can do to promote better outcomes for the community and for the offenders themselves by keeping them accountable for whatever support level of supervision, including electronic monitoring, that they're on is something I think we need to do."

The 31-year-old man accused in Tuesday night's incidents appeared in court on Thursday and will remain in custody until a later date.

He's charged with break and enter, trespass at night, two counts of breach of probation and two counts of failing to comply with a court-imposed release order.

Greater access, better outcomes

According to Charlottetown police, 20 people in the city are being monitored through the use of ankle bracelets.

MacConnell said incidents like what happened Tuesday presented enough red flags to raise concerns about the suspect's whereabouts to police.

"If people are being released into the community, I think there's an expectation that law enforcement … are actively aware of the offender's movements and I think we need to do a little better at that," he said. "Having greater access allows us as a partner to promote better outcomes."

The cost of an ankle bracelet is $12.49 a day, according to the P.E.I. department of Justice and Public Safety.
The cost of an ankle bracelet is $12.49 a day, according to the P.E.I. department of Justice and Public Safety.

MacConnell says Charlottetown police are usually familiar with offenders who wear monitoring bracelets. (Brian Higgins/CBC)

A spokesperson for P.E.I.'s Department of Justice and Public Safety said in a statement that the electronic monitoring system is staffed by supervision officers who respond to any alarms or alerts 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

"While no police agency on P.E.I. is given access to the monitoring system, electronic supervision officers work closely with all police agencies in the province and assist whenever possible or requested through sharing information," the statement reads.