Lopez Helps Pass Legislation To Safeguard Children

July 17, 2009
Assemblyman Pete Lopez (R,C,I-Schoharie) helped pass legislation, Assembly Bill 1242-B, that would further safeguard children from sex offenders by allowing residents to sign up for e-mail notifications to alert them when a Level 2 or 3 sex offender moves into their neighborhood.

“Just within recent months, we have learned about more terrible situations where children were victimized by sex offenders, many of them with prior records or repeat offenses. The news and the statistics show that an offender will strike again and as a parent myself, I want to do everything in my power as a state legislator to protect our children,” said Assemblyman Lopez, referring to the Internet sex crime arrest of a Columbia County physician, sentencing of a Kingston man convicted as a sex offender, and man arrested in Utica with prior offenses in Chenango County.

“Anything that notifies residents of a sex offender who resides in their area is a good thing and I appreciate the Assemblyman’s support of the bill,” said Columbia County Sheriff David W. Harrison, Jr.

To further increase awareness and help local communities guard against sexual predators, Assemblyman Lopez recently brought the Assembly Republican Sex Offender Watch Task Force to Sidney for a public forum. A group of law enforcement, school officials, charity organizations and concerned citizens discussed a wide-range of initiatives that will help residents and municipalities safeguard their children.

The group also discussed the effectiveness of a program called “OffenderWatch” that was introduced in Otsego County in 2008. According to the Otsego County Sheriff’s Office Web site, OffenderWatch is used to “manage and monitor the whereabouts, conduct and compliance status of the registered sex offenders in Otsego County.” A searchable database using this software is available on the Web site. Assemblyman Lopez provided a state grant to help put the OffenderWatch program into operation.

“Here in Otsego County, we are fortunate to have the OffenderWatch program, which allows our residents to monitor and track offenders in their neighborhood. However, this bill provides the entire state that safeguard. For example, if a resident in Otsego County has a child who goes away to

college in another county, they also would be notified if this bill is signed into law," said Otsego County Sheriff Richard J. Devlin, Jr.

“I fully support the passage of this bill. Any time the public can be notified about a sex offender, it is a good thing. I am also pleased that the state did this without shifting the burden to the localities,” said Schoharie County Undersheriff Bill Slater.

“This e-mail alert program is just the type of initiative that parents need, especially in today’s busy world. Now that the bill has passed in both houses, I hope the Governor will quickly sign this important, common-sense bill into law,” said Assemblyman Lopez.

According to the State Division of Criminal Justice Services, the number of registered sex offenders living in our area total:

  • 138 in Chenango County: 47 Level 1; 44 Level 2; 44 Level 3; and 3 offenders whose offense level has not been determined.
  • 117 in Columbia County: 40 Level 1; 44 Level 2; 29 Level 3; and 4 offenders whose offense level has not been determined.
  • 84 in Delaware County: 35 Level 1; 27 Level 2; 21 Level 3; and 1 offender whose offense level has not been determined.
  • 77 in Greene County: 32 Level 1; 30 Level 2; 13 Level 3; and 2 offenders whose offense level has not been determined.
  • 75 in Otsego County: 38 Level 1; 23 Level 2; and 14 Level 3.
  • 56 in Schoharie County: 26 Level 1; 17 Level 2; and 13 Level 3.
  • 226 in Ulster County: 106 Level 1; 87 Level 2; 32 Level 3; and 1 offender whose offense level has not been determined.