Memphis police, domestic violence advocates point out false information being shared

MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- An article bashing the Memphis Police Department for how they treat domestic violence and sex assault victims is making its rounds online.

The article was posted by an organization called “The Raw Story,” which has over a million followers on Facebook.

The article talks about untested rape kits and controversy with the Shelby County DA’s office, but it also has information about domestic violence victims that is causing concern.

The post has gotten about 3,000 likes and over 1,000 shares.

It was posted on Friday with the caption “WTF?!” and the headline, 'Memphis police put ankle monitor GPS devices on dozens of domestic assault victims.'

There's also a picture that appears to show a woman wearing an ankle bracelet with it.

“That’s inaccurate information," said Major J.D. Smith, Memphis Police Department Commander of the domestic violence unit.

He says it's inaccurate because GPS bracelets are what sex offenders and domestic violence offenders are court-ordered to wear -- not victims.

Victims are given the option to have their own GPS devices, but they are not ankle bracelets.

The devices victims are offered are portable and smaller than the size of a phone.

“It’s super small and they can take it with them when they want to," said Major Smith. "You can even decide to leave it at home, but it’s up to you.”

There are about 50 victims who currently choose to have them in Memphis. It lets them and police know if offenders are violating their conditions of where they’re allowed to go.

“We see it as an additional tool in the toolbox in terms of increasing victims’ safety as well offender accountability," said Olliette Murry-Drobot, executive director at the Family Safety Center.

Police think it’s a win-win since offenders violate these terms every day, but they worry the article being shared will put fear in victims.

“They have their opinion, but the accuracy of the information is what’s important," said Major Smith. "Let’s make sure we get the message out clearly.”

He says he hopes more victims will choose to have them but understands the choice is theirs.

The GPS program kicked off in Memphis last July and has resulted in over 160 arrests so far.

The article has since been updated with a note at the bottom acknowledging the devices are optional, portable and don’t have to be physically worn. However, the misleading headline and main picture remain the same.

If you or someone know is a victim of domestic violence or sexual assault, you can call the Family Safety Center at 901-222-4400.