Bill would require local leaders to be notified when sex offenders are transferred

Posted at 10:29 AM, Mar 21, 2017
and last updated 2017-03-21 10:29:00-04

Senator Patrick Gallivan is sponsoring a bill in the Senate that would require the state to notify local leaders when sex offenders are transferred from a state facility to a residential facility.

This is the third time this legislation has been passed by the Senate. It also passed in 2015 and 2016, but failed in the State Assembly.

An amendment to the mental hygiene law would require the Commissioner of the Office of People With Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD) to notify the chief executive officer of any municipality, as well as the superintendent of schools in which the facility is located, where a sex offender is transferred. The Commissioner would be required to inform local leaders of the switch no later than ten days before the transfer takes place.

"The state has an obligation to notify local leaders whenever the transfer of a potentially dangerous sex offender into a residential or community program occurs," Gallivan said. "Too often, community leaders learn of the transfer after the fact and don't have adequate time to properly address public concerns and potential security issues."

In the past, the state has placed developmentally disabled sex offenders in state-owned group homes, catching communities off guard without any warning and raising concerns. One such incident happened in 2013 when seven sex offenders were moved from a prison-like facility in Rochester to West Seneca in the middle of the night. Some of the offenders were then moved into a home in North Collins back in June, a move residents say they were not warned about. At the time, North Collins Town Supervisor John Tobia called a town hall meeting because he said he was not notified either.