Bellone Directs SCPD to Better Protect Against Sex Offenders
By Tim Ruggeri (From the Office of Steve Bellone)
In the wake of court rulings throughout New York State against local residency restriction laws, Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone announced that he has directed the Suffolk County Police Department to develop a comprehensive approach to better protect our communities from sex offenders. At Bellone’s direction, the SCPD will work with other agencies of County government, advocacy organizations and mental health experts to review existing County laws and procedures to determine how to strengthen the County’s approach to dealing with sex offenders. The County Executive has asked the Police Department to return a plan that can be submitted to the legislature by the end of January.
County Executive Bellone argues that a new approach is necessary because current laws intended to protect communities from sex offenders are being successfully challenged in jurisdictions across New York. With more than 1,000 registered sex offenders throughout Suffolk County, he argues that it is vital to stay ahead.
“I am directing the Suffolk County Police Department to make sure we are staying one step ahead to protect our families,” County Executive Bellone said. “We will develop the most stringent monitoring and enforcement program in the nation.”
Parents for Megan’s Law Executive Director Laura Ahearn agrees there needs to be a heightened effort to monitor registered sex offenders.
“I applaud County Executive Bellone for his recognition of the need for, and commitment to, developing a comprehensive and proactive plan concerning registered sex offenders in Suffolk County,” Ahearn said. “Implementing sound policies, supported by necessary resources to insure compliance are essential to protecting our children and our families.”
While there are more than 1,000 registered sex offenders currently living throughout Suffolk County, policy has been disproportionately focused on approximately 40 sex offenders– or 4% of the total– who are homeless. Suffolk County is obligated under New York State law to pay for the housing of the homeless, including homeless registered sex offenders. The new policy will increase monitoring and dedicate resources to 100% of Suffolk County’s more than 1,000 registered sex offenders.
The new approach being developed by the Suffolk County Police Department will end the County’s current policy of congregating multiple homeless sex offenders in fixed trailers. The policy has resulted in unfair burdens placed on individual communities most visibly in the sex offender trailers located in the Town of Southampton in Westhampton and adjacent to the Riverhead downtown.