BY JOE MARVILLI
City Council 19 candidate Dennis Saffran wants to follow Nassau County’s example and stop sex offenders from living near playgrounds and schools in Queens.
Saffran said he had won an appellate court victory on behalf of Nassau County that allowed more than 100 municipalities throughout New York State to continue to bar registered sex offenders from living near schools, playgrounds or their own victims. He is calling on the City Council to enact similar legislation and plans to introduce the bill himself if he is elected.
Saffran brought up the issue at a press conference at Willets Point Playground. One block away from the playground is the residence of a level 2 sex offender, convicted of sexually abusing a girl who was younger than 11 years old.
“It is unacceptable that parents in Northeast Queens have to send their children to schools and playgrounds within walking distance of convicted child rapists and sexual predators,” Saffran said.
Level 1 is considered a low risk for repeated offenses, level 2 is a medium risk and level 3 is a high risk. Level 2 and 3 offenders are listed on the online State registry. The levels are based on a system that considers factors like the age of the victim and use of violence.
Saffran also released a map that displayed 22 registered sex offenders that live in the 19th Council district. A level 3 offender lives two blocks away from Hermon A. Macneil Park in College Point. Two offenders, one level 2 and one level 3, are based one block over from St. Luke’s School in Whitestone.
While Saffran’s Democrat opponent, Paul Vallone, agreed with the idea behind the legislation, he felt the method was not suitable for Queens.
“We are clearly in favor of cracking down on sex offenders,” Vallone said. “The problem is when you force sex offenders into less populated residential areas or push them out of urban areas to create these buffer zones, where you pushing them? You are pushing them right into our district.”
Reach Joe Marvilli at (718) 357-7400, Ext. 125, firstname.lastname@example.org, or @Joey788.