Assemblyman Michael Fitzpatrick (R,C,I-Smithtown) today expressed disappointment with the governor’s veto of legislation that would have required social services to notify law enforcement when a homeless sex offender is placed in temporary emergency housing. The legislation passed with unanimous bipartisan support in both the Assembly and Senate.
“To ensure safety throughout our communities, it’s imperative that the public is aware when convicted sex offenders move into an area,” said Fitzpatrick. “In Suffolk County, homeless sex offenders are placed in trailers that are shifted from community to community in order to ensure they never settle in one area. It’s only common sense to alert law enforcement when a convicted homeless sex offender is being moved to a different neighborhood.”
A.9044 provides that local commissioners of social services notify law enforcement agencies when a homeless sex offender is placed in temporary emergency housing. The legislation passed both houses with unanimous support. The bill would have amended section 131 of the Social Services Law, and closed the loophole that stipulates confidentiality when homeless sex offenders are placed in temporary units. Spitzer vetoed the legislation on July 18, claiming that the language in the legislation was “ambiguous.”
Suffolk County utilizes the mobile trailers to keep sex offenders from settling into a particular neighborhood. Local officials have previously complained that large numbers of sex offenders had been settling into certain municipalities. Suffolk County currently has more than 800 registered sex offenders. Last year 36 of them sought temporary emergency housing through the Department of Social Services.
“This is a very serious issue throughout Suffolk County,” said Fitzpatrick. “It’s unfortunate that despite a bipartisan effort to close a dangerous loophole in our system, important information will continue to be withheld from the public.”