Senate Approves Creation Of Drug Dealer Registry

George Winner

June 14, 2007

Albany, N.Y.-- The New York State Senatehas approved legislation sponsored by Senator George H. Winner, Jr. (R-C, Elmira) to enact the "Drug Dealer Registration Act."

The legislation, patterned after New York’s Sex Offender Registry, would create a state-level Drug Dealer Registry that would require convicted felony drug dealers to register with the state Division of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS) for up to 10 years. It would provide notification to local law enforcement agencies and the local community on the identity and whereabouts of the convicted dealers.

"A Drug Dealer Registry is one way for our cities, towns and villages to hang out a ‘No Trespassing’ sign to would-be drug dealers," said Winner, a member of the Senate Crime Victims, Crime and Correction Committee. "Drug dealers threaten the quality, safety and well-being of many communities. This proposed registry would give our local police officers and local residents a strong tool to fight back against illegal drug trafficking in their neighborhoods. It’s a proven way to heighten public awareness of dangerous criminal activity."

Winner’s legislation (S.5980/A.8824) is being sponsored in the Assembly by Assemblyman Harvey Weisenberg (D-Long Beach). It is currently in the Assembly Correction Committee.

Winner noted that in recent years there have been consistent reports of a steadily increasing infiltration of drug dealers from large urban areas into many of upstate’s small cities, towns and villages. He said that his proposal was developed with input from local law enforcement authorities, including village of Bath (Steuben County) Police Chief David K. Rouse, who advanced and advocated the idea for a Drug Dealer Registry in a letter to Winner in early April.

Rouse said, "Drug dealers pose a threat to all citizens and their illicit activities have a significant impact on a community's quality of life. Absent of a Drug Dealer Registry, drug dealers can conceal their identities and criminal pasts, moving undetected from one jurisdiction to another while continuing their illicit trade. When encountered by law enforcement they provide bogus identification and their true identities are not known until they are subsequently arrested and fingerprinted."

Under Winner’s legislation, DCJS would be required to create a registry of criminals found guilty of a felony drug dealer offense in New York State. First-time offenders would be required to register for a period of five years. A 10-year registration period would be required following any subsequent conviction.

Much like the existing Sex Offender Registry, Winner’s proposed Drug Dealer Registry would require the DCJS to maintain an Internet directory containing a variety of information on convicted drug dealers including the offender’s name and any known aliases, birth date, sex, race, height, weight, eye color, driver’s license number, home address, expected place of domicile, photograph, offense committed and sentence.

The division would be required to forward registry information to local law enforcement agencies and, in addition to the Drug Dealer Registry web site, maintain a toll-free telephone number as another way for the public to obtain registry information.

Similar legislation has been proposed at the federal level, as well as recently in the states of Maine and New Mexico. Late last year the federal Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) launched the nation’s first-ever Meth Site Registry posting locations in each state where known methamphetamine clandestine labs or dumpsites have been found. The Meth Site Registry can be found on the DEA’s web site.