2014-02-28 / Columnists

Eye On Rockaway

Sex Offender Bill Adds Layer of Protection for Children
By Miriam Rosenberg

Earlier this month Assemblyman Phillip Goldfeder announced he would introduce legislation that would ensure that all parks where children play are off limits to dangerous sex offenders. The proposal would restrict convicted sex offenders from residing within 500 feet or less of any public park with a playground. What is especially important is that it closes a loophole in the current law that restricts sex offenders from living within 1000 feet or entering parks that are attached to school buildings. Parks that are not aligned with schools are not currently covered. For those living on the east end that includes such well-used parks as Beach 9th Street Playground on the corner of Beach 9th and Seagirt Boulevard, O’Donohue Park on Beach 17th Street and Seagirt Boulevard and Bayswater Park.

The last complete breakdown of registered level 2 and 3 sex offenders living on the peninsula was in the November 25, 2011 issue of The Wave. At that time 66 sex offenders were living in Rockaway. Since then, the number has more than doubled to 125.

As of February 24th there were 89 registered in the 11691 area code, 19 in 11692, 4 in 11693, 13 in 11694 and none in 11697. It is time-consuming, but any resident can check out their zip code by going to the New York State Criminal Justice website, www.criminaljustice. ny.gov, and just enter your zip code. Then you can check each name on the list to determine if any of them live near you. Offenders may be on the list several times due to aliases that that were reported on their registration forms. Any offender who is incarcerated in a correctional facility will also be on the list.

The increase since 2011 is concerning. But it shouldn’t be unexpected since the number has been going up for years. According to the 2011 article, in 2007 there were 48 level 2 and 3 registered sex offenders living in Rockaway. Except for 2010 when the number remained at 60 from the previous year, the numbers have been going up.

Our legislators must make protecting children a priority. That is what Goldfeder’s proposal does. The problems with the current law were highlighted earlier this month when it was discovered that two convicted sex offenders had moved into the same building on Beach 116th Street. While the building was more than the required 1000 feet from the nearest school, it was within several hundred feet of the beach and public parks.

As a father and a lawmaker, Goldfeder said, “We need to create stronger laws that will allow our children to remain protected and out of reach of sexual predators.”

The proposal would add an extra layer of safety for those who are our most vulnerable – our children. It will also give peace of mind for those in the community.

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