On Tuesday, the Suffolk County Legislature unanimously approved a bill to create what sponsors say will be the strongest sex offender monitoring program in the country. The bill also shuts down two trailers that have housed homeless sex offenders. Both trailers were located in Southampton Town.
The Community Protection Act calls for homeless sex offenders to be placed in one of Suffolk County’s existing shelters and mandates that no more than one offender should be housed in one facility. It also calls for offenders to be kept separate from families in the shelter.
The bill was first introduced at a meeting of the Suffolk County Legislature’s Public Safety committee in Hauppauge last Thursday night. At the meeting, the Suffolk County Police Department and Parents for Megan’s Law outlined a plan to end the clustering of homeless sex offenders in any one community.
The announcement came one day after Suffolk County Legislator Jay Schneiderman held an East End Community meeting to see public comments on the county’s homeless sex offender trailer program.
A Power Point presentation was made by Suffolk County Police Chief James Burke at Thursday’s meeting.
The new plan for homeless sex offender housing will permanently close trailers in Westhampton and Riverside, which have served as the sole locations for homeless sex offenders to reside since 2006 much to the protest of both Southampton Town officials and residents.
Under the Community Protection Act, Suffolk County will contact with Parents for Megan’s Law at a cost of no more than $900,000 annually. Parents for Megan’s Law will create a system to monitor where sex offenders are residing and develop a system for community members to report if a sex offender is in violation. Community outreach, education and victim services will also be provided by the organization.
Suffolk County Police will also be responsible for address verification and ensuring officers have accurate and detailed information about offenders in their patrol area.
Currently, there are 1,016 sex offenders in Suffolk County, according to a report issued by Legislator Schneiderman this week.