A U.S. Senator is outraged that the Federal Probation Office apparently ignored dozens of alerts set off by David Renz's GPS monitoring bracelet, indicating it had been tampered with.
In an interview with CNYCentral on Thursday, Senator Charles Schumer (D, New York) says the probation department should, "better get on top of that, and fix it, and I'll try to see that they do."
The details of what Renz was able to do in the months leading up to the murder of Lori Bresnahan and rape of a 10-year-old girl were uncovered in a highly critical report released Tuesday by U.S. District Chief Judge Gary Sharpe.
According to the report, some of the alerts lasted minutes, but others lasted as long as four hours before the GPS bracelet sent a signal to the monitoring center in Colorado indicating it was working correctly. The report indicates there were seven long alerts revealing Renz's monitor was tampered with leading up to the day he attacked Bresnahan and the girl.
Schumer told CNYCentral if the devices are easily dismantled or they work at some point and then don't at other times, the Probation Department needs to fix the problem.
"If the Federal Probation office, when this device didn't work, didn't fix it the first time, that is outrageous and look at the awful price that was paid, so we're going to have to look into the probation office not only in this case, but in the other cases and see if they're doing the right job here," Schumer said.
In the report, Chief Judge Gary Sharpe says the terrible tragedy was committed by just one person, but he does apologize for the crimes committed against Bresnahan and the 10-year-old girl. "To those victims and loves ones, we are profoundly sorry that we were unable to prevent this tragedy," he wrote in the report.
The report makes six critical findings, four related to the location monitoring and two related to the supervision add case planning of Renz.
In light of the Renz case, changes are being implemented within the Federal Probation office in Syracuse.
Reached by phone, Matthew Brown, the chief probation officer for the Northern District of New York, told CNYCentral, "We've been working on changes since all of this started. We've known about the issues that were cited in the report, so we immediately started making changes. We're not done with making all the changes... it's an ongoing process."
Brown would not comment on any specific changes, but says they stem from issues raised in the report.
Brown calls the report comprehensive and fair. He is still confident in the use of electronic monitoring devices. "We still have 90 cases in our District that are using this kind of monitoring equipment. I would still have confidence in (it)," says Brown.
Renz was allowed to be on home confinement using the electronic monitoring device while he faced federal child pornography charges. The unit had been removed from Renz's ankle and reassembled so it continued to send a signal as if it was still attached to his ankle. That's when prosecutors say he confronted Bresnahan and the girl outside Great Northern Mall in Clay and attacked them.
The U.S. Probation office of the Northern District of New York had a lengthy scheduled review in October of 2009 by the Administrative Office of the United States Courts. That report included 54 recommendations on how the probation office could operate more effectively based on existing federal guide.
Last week, Renz was arraigned on 37-count indictment on charges of kidnapping, rape, criminal sexual act, murder, and sexual assault related to the brutal attack and murder in Clay. If convicted, he faces life in prison without parole.