Nassau County Presiding Officer Norma Gonsalves, Hempstead Town Supervisor Kate Murray, Senior Councilman Anthony Santino , Senator Michael Venditto and Assemblyman Ed Ra are joining forces on a state law that allows municipalities to impose residency restrictions upon sex offenders within their communities. The bill (S3925), which has passed the Senate, has been drafted in response to a February 2015 Court of Appeals decision that determined existing state law pre-empted localities from imposing residency restrictions on sex offenders. The officials joined families at Eisenhower Park to promote the legislative initiative.
“I want to thank Councilman Santino, Senator Venditto and Assemblyman Ra for working to protect our children and families,” said Murray. “This bill gives the power to local governments to ensure that our children are safe at local playgrounds, schools, daycare facilities and other areas that should be safe havens.”
In the powerful legislation, the legislative sponsors indicated that restrictions on sex offender residency should be made by the local municipality, as those jurisdictions are more knowledgeable on local conditions and concerning entities which have vulnerable populations.
“I am confident that sex offender residency restrictions falling under the jurisdiction of local governments would result in more effective programs and thus safer communities for our residents,” added Councilman Santino.
“The local governments such as our towns and villages should have the authority to restrict sex offender residency in their home communities,” stated Venditto. “They know their hometowns better than anyone else.”
The new proposal not only empowers municipalities to enact local laws restricting where sex offenders may live, but also allows localities to be even more restrictive than the requirements set forth in state law.
“Local officials know best when it comes to the dynamics of their communities and how to protect vulnerable people,” observed Ra. “This legislation will give municipalities the tools they need to keep neighbors safe.”
“The Court of Appeals ruling struck down Nassau County’s local law restricting Level 1, Level 2 and Level 3 convicted sex offenders from living within 1,000 feet of a school,” said Gonsalves. “We are anxiously awaiting the action of state legislators and the Governor to restore Nassau’s ability to exert its authority in this area.”
Murray mentioned that her town is crafting a local sex offender residency restriction code in anticipation of the Venditto/Ra bill becoming law. The law will provide for residency restrictions around parks, schools and day care facilities, among other locations.
“Working together, we can help keep our communities safe,” concluded Murray. “I encourage residents to contact their state legislators to urge their support of this bill for the sake of our children.”