Legislative Goals Met, More Needs To Be Done

May 24, 2007

One of my highest priorities as your Assemblyman is to fight for legislation that protects children and those who protect us. This year, we have taken great strides to keep the most dangerous sexual predators off the streets and away from our families. Fourteen years after civil confinement was first introduced in the state Assembly, the measure has finally passed and was signed into law by the governor.

While the civil confinement law represents a major landmark in keeping violent predators out of our communities, much more needs to be done to provide a safe environment in which our innocent and unsuspecting youngsters may live and play.

Earlier this month, the state Senate passed two bills that would help close loopholes in Megan’s Law to limit close contact with minors by sex offenders, which calls for stiffer penalties for those who falsify their name and address with law enforcement.

The legislation, sponsored by Senator Jim Alesi, restricts a convicted Level 3 sex offender from living within a quarter of a mile of a school or daycare facility. The other bill makes it a felony for a convicted sex offender to give false information to a law enforcement officer.

The New York State Division of Criminal Justice has a public registry database from which law enforcement and concerned parents can use to see if a registered sex offender lives in a particular neighborhood. The registry exists to keep families informed, and I encourage you to use the database if you have any questions about who may be living in your community.

I applaud the Senate for passing these common-sense measures aimed at protecting our most vulnerable population – our children. The unfortunate reality is that these bills are not new to the state Legislature. In fact, since 2003 these bills have been held up in the Assembly, having never reached the governor’s desk to be signed into law.

It becomes increasingly frustrating to see lawmakers play partisan political games at the expense of children’s safety. Today, I am calling on my colleagues in the Assembly to put aside political differences and get these bills passed.

Furthermore, we need to put laws on the books that protect the law enforcement officials who so bravely risk their lives to keep us safe. Particularly, I am calling for the death penalty for cop killers.

The number of officers murdered is up to six in the last year and a half – the deadliest period of cop killing in a decade. This is double the murder rate compared to when New York state had a death penalty.

Now is the time to take additional measures to protect the tens of thousands of law enforcement and correction officers who protect us every day, especially the many we have living right here in our community. We need to send a message to criminals that if they are going to take the life of a police officer, they will pay the ultimate price.

The Assembly Minority Conference and I have proposed measures to reinstate the death penalty for cop killers by addressing the concerns of the court. We need to toughen the law by closing loopholes and giving prosecutors the ability to charge cop killers with the death penalty.

One of the best reasons to live in the Southern Tier is its safe neighborhoods and dedicated police forces. I will continue to strive to make our community even safer, and punish those who so brazenly disregard the safety of those who bravely protect us.