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Wake sheriff: More communication needed on probation cases

Posted April 3, 2008
Updated May 5, 2008

— Police agencies, probation officials and the courts could and should find ways for them and their computer systems to communicate better to help avoid situations like those of the men accused of killing a University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill student, the Wake County sheriff said Thursday.

"The court computers, the magistrate computers, probation-parole computers – a lot of those just don't marry," Sheriff Donnie Harrison said, and it creates gaps through which cases can fall.

An internal investigation of the state parole system's oversight of the two men charged in the killing of UNC senior Eve Carson pointed to problems – among them: staffing, training and communication.

That has Harrison calling for action.

Although law enforcement authorities and probation system officials say there is no guarantee the crimes would not have been committed, closer supervision of Demario James Atwater and Laurence Alvin Lovette Jr. might have detected problems with their cases sooner.

Atwater is charged with murder in Carson's shooting death. Lovette is charged with murder in her killing in Chapel Hill and that of Duke University graduate student Abhijit Mahato in Durham. Atwater and Lovette were each on probation when the killings happened.

Part of the problem, Harrison says, is a communication gap: Probation officers get no alert if a person they are supervising is arrested, and police aren't alerted if someone they arrest is on probation.

Harrison says computer systems are not synchronized, and most probation and law enforcement offices don't know what others are doing.

"It's never going to be an ideal situation, as long as you have different departments, until you get some computers talking to each other," he said.

Harrison and the state Division of Community Corrections, which oversees probation, have already met to talk about what can be done.

"Are there some things that we can do to help them better manage what they're doing?" Harrison asked. "They have a workload. There's no question about it, they have a workload."


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  • Dr. Dataclerk Apr 4, 2008

    If the sheriff is a 10, how did the criminal escape? lol I would have to say he is a 0. lol

  • Dr. Dataclerk Apr 4, 2008

    wcnc: That's why we need a new sheriff in chatham county and orange county. :)

  • wcnc Apr 4, 2008

    "Lack of communication!!! These people are being paid to do a job. If they cannot do it fire them. "

    When Eve Carson was killed and they did a report on probation officers, they gave the numbers of people on probation and the number of officers statewide and it comes down to each probation officer having over 200 probation cases to deal with. There is NO way you can adequately supervise all of those people if you are a top notch officer. So, if you stink at it, oh my goodness!!

    Of course, more staff is needed, but that costs money.

    Of course, better communication between police/sheriff's departments and probation/parole is needed, but that costs money.

  • wcnc Apr 4, 2008

    "The sheriff is very intelligent. On a scale of 1-10 I give him a "0" "

    I hope you meant that he is a "10" and not a "0" !!!

    Since the Sheriff has no control over probation, what is happening there is not his "problem" in that it's not his to fix!! He's just saying that if one of his deputies arrested someone, they have NO way of knowing if the suspect is on probation.....And that if he did, he could alert the probation officer who could automatically file a violation......That's the problem and I'm sure the solution of a new coputer program/system will cost millions....

  • hkypky Apr 4, 2008

    I think Harrison does a good job. However, he's falling into the same "PC" trap that many end up in when the lights are turned up.

    Note to self Deputy Dog .... fix what's broke and not necessarily what's going to get you the atta-boy's from the Press and the PC Flag waivers.

  • Dr. Dataclerk Apr 4, 2008

    So what it boils down too is this: Chatham County and Orange County needs a new sheriff and get rid of the old ones because they are not communicating and doing their job like it is suppose to be done. A good sheriff makes it beter for the department and the community.

  • superman Apr 4, 2008

    The sheriff is very intelligent. On a scale of 1-10 I give him a "0" It is very smart to come out and suggest there is a problem when it has already been pointed out by others. If he is so smart, he would have suggested this a long time ago. He is a follower and not a leader. No ideas of his own.

  • likemenow Apr 4, 2008

    Think he wouldn't mind taking over Durham County as well?....lol...but really...and if he can handle those two, then, and only then, will we let him try his hand at Cumberland County also

  • likemenow Apr 4, 2008

    I completely agree with ya, TWC

  • twc Apr 4, 2008

    likemenow, I believe Sheriff Harrison is pointing out the need for better communication between agencies for one thing. He has other ideas which apparently are not being done currently. His is a step in the right direction. He seems to be asking for exactly what you're suggesting--to use these resources in harmony. That is what I'm praising.