N.O. ankle monitoring program still under fire following murder of delivery driver

N.O. ankle monitoring program still under fire following murder of delivery driver

Frustration over the city's ankle monitoring system kept those who oversee the program on the hot seat, Wednesday.

They faced tough questions during a city council criminal justice committee meeting, over the recent murder of pizza delivery driver Richard Yeager. The two 16-year-old suspects arrested for the crime were wearing monitoring devices at the time, officials said.

One of the boys is enrolled in the city's program.

"I want to make sure that we are not talking about an all or nothing choice. There are multiple things that could have been done that we will never know could have saved two lives," said Council President Stacy Head. "We are giving the public a false sense of security and giving kids almost a way to play chicken or to test the system and to see if they can be renegades. It's killing them, and it's killing people in the public."

Orleans Sheriff's officials said deputies assigned to the program did get alerts that the young suspect left his restricted area in the hours before the murder.

Deputies followed up and reprimanded the boy, officials said, but the suspect allegedly left his home again before the deadly attack.

Chief Deputy Jerry Ursin said the sheriff's office is now working to add full-time manpower to the monitoring staff.

"We have five deputies at this point. Just as the NOPD has trouble hiring and retaining, we do too," he said.

Officials also said the monitoring technology helped connect the suspect to the killing.

"These monitors can prevent some crimes. They can deter most crimes, but if they don't prevent it or deter it, they can detect it," said Dave Scheppegrell, program manager with Omnilink.

But, Head argued there are too many lapses in how the monitoring program is being run.

"There is not consistent response in a meaningful way when children are outside the parameters that are supposed to keep them and society safe," she said.