03/08/15 8:00am
03/08/2015 8:00 AM
County Executive Steve Bellone (center) touts the benefits of the county's new sex offender monitoring efforts in Hauppauge last week. (Credit: Tim Gannon)

County Executive Steve Bellone (center) touts the benefits of the county’s new sex offender monitoring efforts in Hauppauge last week. (Credit: Tim Gannon)

East End towns and villages are now under political and media pressure to participate in Suffolk County’s sex offender monitoring program. This program is operated, under contract with the county, by the Parents for Megan’s Law advocacy organization. Taking a position against a new sex offender monitoring program, here or anywhere, will not help me win any popularity contests. However, I think it’s important for us to take an objective look at this program’s potential impact on the community, its taxpayers and those it targets before jumping on the “Let’s get tough with sex offenders” bandwagon.  (more…)

02/28/15 8:00am
02/28/2015 8:00 AM
County Executive Steve Bellone (center) touts the benefits of the county's new sex offender monitoring efforts in Hauppauge Friday. (Credit: Tim Gannon)

County Executive Steve Bellone (center) touts the benefits of the county’s new sex offender monitoring efforts in Hauppauge Friday. (Credit: Tim Gannon)

A program designed to monitor and reduce recidivism among convicted sex offenders has been very successful in the Suffolk County Police Department’s jurisdiction, officials said Friday.

The program, part of the county’s Community Protection Act, uses retired police officers who work for the nonprofit Parents for Megan’s Law to make in-person visits to sex offenders to ensure that they’re in compliance with residency registration laws and other requirements.

To date, however, none of the five East End town police departments is using that portion of the program, which has been offered to them at no cost, said Laura Ahearn, director of the nonprofit, which works to prevent sex offenses and aid victims of sex crimes. (more…)

02/05/13 6:04pm

BARBARAELLEN KOCH FILE PHOTO | The inside of the trailer for homeless sex offenders place outside the Suffolk County Jail in Riverside.

The Suffolk County Legislature unanimously approved a law Tuesday evening that will redistribute the 38 homeless sex offenders currently housed in construction trailers in Riverside and Westhampton to shelters across the entire county.

The new plan will spread the sex offenders out, one per shelter, at county-run facilities, where they will be monitored more closely by county police.

Suffolk County Police Chief James Burke and Parents for Megan’s Law director Laura Ahearn, who crafted the plan with County Executive Steve Bellone, first pitched it to the Legislature’s public safety Committee in Hauppauge last Thursday morning.

Ms. Ahearn was back before the entire Legislature Tuesday, urging members to approve the plan.

“For seven years we have talked about this,” she said. “This community protection plan is the solution. It’s not perfect and you can poke holes in it, but it’s the best in the nation.”

Homeless sex offenders had been housed at the same two trailers since 2007, even though the original plan was for them to rotate throughout the county. The Riverside trailer was located next to the Suffolk County Jail.

Under the new plan, sex offenders will no longer reside at the trailers and officials promised they will not be shipped to shelters that serve families.

Chief Burke also said last week that the department’s intelligence database will be updated to include information on the activities of the more than 1,000 sex offenders throughout the county, which can be cross-referenced and easily searched by officers in the field.

Officers will check in with the homeless sex offenders each night to ensure that they are staying where they are assigned, he said.

“They’re gonna know that we know where they are,” he said at the committee meeting.

Chief Burke said the department expects costs of the new program to be significantly less than the $4 million the county is currently spending to house the sex offenders on the East End, since the department will be utilizing police personnel who are already in the field.

Ms. Ahearn also unveiled her group’s new eight-point plan, which includes hiring two teams of retired police officers to verify addresses of [non-homeless] sex offenders and verify the work addresses of Level 3 sex offenders. Offenders at lower levels are not required to report their work addresses to police.

She said 60 percent of Level 3 offenders don’t currently report their work addresses, even though they are required to by law.

Enforceability in the five East End towns, which all have their own police departments, would depend on local police chiefs signing on to the county’s plan, said Chief Burke. He said the county’s resources and intelligence will be made available to any other police department that signs on to the plan.

Prior to Tuesday’s vote, Flanders Riverside Northampton Civic Association president Brad Bender said the time had come to rid the East End of the burden of housing all the county’s sex offenders.

“You have an opportunity to take responsibility,” he said, addressing the entire Legislature. “It is easy to do nothing, but these are your residents. Like a leper colony, you’ve chosen to ship them to us.”

Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst said her only major concern with the plan, which she supported, is a loophole that could allow the county to revert back to the trailer plan.

“They should be decommissioned to make sure there is never a way that we will fall back on this again,” she said.

Legislator John Kennedy (R-Smithtown), who said legislators only received the plan at 12:30 p.m.Tuesday, was among a small group of legislators to voice concern with how quickly the bill was brought to a vote. But once role was called, the faction all voted yes.

“I don’t like the way this was handled, but I am going to support this so it passes unanimously,” he said.

[email protected]

08/22/12 10:38am
08/22/2012 10:38 AM

A police operation last month involving Suffolk County police detectives, numerous East End town police and U.S. marshals has found that all 10 registered sex offenders living in Southold Town are in compliance with state law regarding reporting of their residences, law enforcement officials said.

The undertaking, dubbed “Operation Lighthouse,” checked in on 60 sex offenders across Southold, Riverhead, Southampton and East Hampton to make sure they were correctly registered to their homes as required by the New York State Registry Act, officials said.

“We know that the population can more than double during the summer months,” said Charles G. Dunne, U.S. Marshal for the Eastern District of New York, “We want to make sure we are doing everything possible to keep our children safe.”

The operation began the morning of July 9, when officers knocked on doors of registered sex offenders’ houses between 5 a.m. and 9 a.m. to ensure they lived at that location, police said.

The operation lasted until July 13 and spanned across the East End, officials said.

Of the 60 sex offenders who were investigated, five were found to be not in compliance, police said. They were located, arrested and face charges from the Suffolk County District Attorney’s office, according to the statement.

The identity of those sex offenders, as well as their places of residence, was not immediately available.