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New Yorkers need e-alerts for sex offenders: Lancman

State Assemblyman Rory Lancman (D-Fresh Meadows) and state Sens. Jeff Klein (D-Bronx) and John Sabini (D-Jackson Heights) called on the state last week to adopt a measure that would give concerned parents and neighbors e-mail alerts when a sex offender moves into their ZIP code.The three legislators said the existing NY-Alert system, maintained by the federal Homeland Security Department to convey emergency information via e-mail, could simply be adapted to include news of high-risk sex offenders. The state Criminal Justice Services Division maintains the sex offender registry."The cost to merge this information into NY-Alert and notify New York parents when sex offenders move into their neighborhood is negligible, and the benefit is self-evident. This system will be an important tool for parents to protect their children," Lancman said.New York State's Sex Offender Registry classifies some 26,000 people by their risk of reoffending: low-risk (Level 1), moderate risk (Level 2) and high-risk (Level 3). Level 2 and 3 offenders are listed on an Internet subdirectory on the division's Web site, and the public can access all levels of the database at local police stations or via a toll-free telephone number. The information changes constantly, however, as new offenders are added or existing registrants update their information.Lancman, Klein and Sabini said e-mail updates would allow New Yorkers to keep tabs on a specific geographic area, such as where they live or where their children attend school, and would save them the trouble of checking the Web site.The legislators released a report with the 2008 data for all sex offenders registered in the five boroughs, broken down by ZIP code. Of the 3,260 known sex offenders residing in New York City, 204 live in Queens, 133 in Staten Island, 683 in Brooklyn, 232 in Manhattan and 531 in the Bronx. The report also showed that between Sept. 25, 2006, and March 10, 2008, the number of Level 2 and 3 sex offenders registered with the division in New York state has increased at a rate of one per day."The numbers are overwhelming. All the more so when you consider that more and more families with young children are choosing to stay in New York City and raise their families," Klein said. "It would be near criminal to deny New Yorkers the added convenience of better protecting our children from the kind of unsavory individuals who are, in many cases, our neighbors."Reach reporter Alex Christodoulides by e-mail at achristodoulides@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 155.

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