In an attempt to build on the momentum of the recentagreement and movement regardingcivil commitment legislation, Senator John Flanagan (2nd Senate District) today joined with his colleagues to call on Governor Eliot Spitzer to enhance the New York law enforcement’s ability to track and monitor sex offenders. The three-point plan that Senator Flanagan is proposing would help identify the whereabouts of the more than 1,000 convicted sex offenders who have failed to comply with address verification requirements.
The plan, which can be implemented by the Executive without legislation, will help law enforcement officials track down these missing sex offenders, while also heightening awareness among members of the media and the general public when a sex offender might be on the loose in their community.
"Governor Spitzer was the catalyst in getting the Assembly to finally agree to civil commitment and we are looking for him to again act in the best interests of our communities. This plan is aimed at enhancing the state’s ability to keep these criminals from living in the shadows of our neighborhoods," stated Senator Flanagan.
The plan would accomplish its goals by:
Establishing A New NYSAFE Office (The New York Sex Offender Apprehension and Felony Enforcement Office) - The Senate’s proposal calls on the Governor to immediately establish a new investigative unit – the NYSAFE Office – within the State Police that would be focused solely on tracking the location of registered sex offenders. The office would be responsible for verifying residency compliance and notifying the public when a sex offender’s whereabouts are unknown.
Creating a New Missing Sex Offender Website- The NYSAFE Office would work with local law enforcement agencies to track down and verify the residency compliance of registered sex offenders.
When an individual’s whereabouts can no longer be determined, the NYSAFE Office would be required to immediately post Level 2 and Level 3 offender information on a new DCJS Missing Sex Offender Website until such time as the offender is located and complies with the law. This website would be similar to New York’s "100 Most Wanted" website, which has proven to be a highly successful law enforcement tool that has helped identify and apprehend many of the worst fugitive felons in the State.
New York's 100 Most Wanted Site, which has already received more than two million hits and led to the capture of more than 100 violent criminals statewide, currently includes the following information about fugitive felons: the offender’s name, picture, county of conviction or location of criminal activity, and the crime committed.
Making similar information available about missing sex offenders would accomplish two key objectives: first, it would enable parents and concerned citizens across the state to quickly ascertain whether the new neighbor down the hall or across the street may be a sex offender who is trying to hide his whereabouts from authorities. And second, it would serve to heighten the visibility of offenders who continue to move in violation of residency requirements, thereby assisting law enforcement officials from across the State in identifying and apprehending these individuals.
Initiating the PREDATOR Alert System (PREDATOR - Protect, Deter, Alert, Track, and Report System) - The third element calls for the State Police to establish a new PREDATOR Alert System, patterned after the highly successful Amber Alert system, that would immediately alert local law enforcement agencies and the media of missing registered Level 2 and Level 3 sex offenders.
Currently, when a child goes missing an Amber Alert is immediately sent out around the State, and at times, around the country. However, when a level three sexual predator goes missing, law enforcement officials obtain a warrant for the offenders arrest but members of the public are often left in the dark and in danger.
More effective and widespread information sharing would increase the likelihood that sex offenders could be efficiently tracked, thereby helping to protect innocent people. Additionally, high profile law enforcement and media information sharing would provide a deterrent effect to sex offenders who might otherwise try to avoid their legal obligations to report their whereabouts.
"The full potential of Megan’s Law can only be achieved if we require strict compliance for sex offenders. This plan would greatly enhance the ability of law enforcement to track, locate and expose those who evade their registration responsibilities and would enhance the safety of our communities. Parents have a right to know who is living near their children and this plan would increase their ability to protect their children," said Laura Ahearn, Executive Director of Parents for Megan's Law and the Crime Victims Center.
"Every sexual offender is aware of the obligations they face when they are released from prison and there is absolutely no excuse for failure to comply," added Senator Flanagan. "This plan is critical to enforcing New York’s strict sex offender laws and is designed to make sure that these criminals are held accountable. If implemented by Executive Order, these initiatives will help by alerting the public, providing needed tools to law enforcement and tracking down those hiding from the law."
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