Saffran pledges bill to bar sex offenders

City Council candidate Dennis Saffran (r.) visits a playground in Whitestone, where he pledged to draft legislation barring sexual predators from living near such locations if he is elected. Photo courtesy Saffran
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Republican City Council candidate Dennis Saffran visited a playground in Whitestone to promise northeast Queens voters he would fight to keep registered sex offenders away from places populated with kids if elected in November.

Calling on a similar Nassau County appellate court decision he won as an attorney in September, the GOP-backed Saffran pledged he would draft legislation in the Council to bar sex offenders from living near schools, playgrounds or their victims. The Douglaston native pointed out the residences of 22 registered offenders living near such spots in his northeast Queens 19th District and outlined his plan to mirror what he helped achieve in the borough’s neighboring county.

Standing at the Willets Point Playground on 166th Street, Saffran singled out several registered offenders living near parks and schools throughout the district, pointing to the home of one such offender one block from the playground.

“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. “One of my first actions as councilman will be to introduce a bill like the one the court just upheld.”

Early last month, Saffran argued and won on behalf of Nassau County a ruling against a court decision to strike down the county’s sex offender residency restriction law, he said. The case involved designated sex offender Michael Diack, who served 22 months in prison on a child pornography conviction and was later charged with violating Nassau law by living within 500 feet of two pre-K-to-12 schools, including one for children with special needs, Saffran said.

The Nassau County lower court dropped the charges on the grounds that county law was pre-empted by state law, Saffran said, but an appeals court later reinstated the charges.

“The decision is a tremendous victory for the community,” said Laura Ahearn, of Parents for Megan’s Law. “The message is loud and clear — the protection of children is a top priority.”

The victory implemented a similar law to those of other municipalities throughout the state, in which registered sex offenders must file with a state registry under Megan’s Law, barring them from living within 1,000 feet of schools, 500 feet of a park, or 2,000 feet from their victims.

“This decision is a victory for parents across the state, allowing communities to pass laws that place the safety of children above the rights of dangerous predators,” Saffran said. “It is unacceptable that New York City has not passed such legislation providing our children with the same protection as the children in Nassau County and over 100 other localities around the state.”

Saffran was the lone Republican to step up in the race to replace outgoing City Councilman Dan Halloran (R-Whitestone), whose seat will be decided in the November general election against Democratic nominee Paul Vallone. The 19th District oversees neighborhoods including Auburndale, Bayside, College Point, Douglaston, Flushing and parts of Little Neck.

Reach reporter Phil Corso by e-mail at or by phone at 718-260-4573.

Updated 6:45 pm, October 3, 2013
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Reader feedback

Bill of rights says:
Political lemmings!
Oct. 3, 2013, 9:40 am
R. Grooms from MO says:
Ridculous! How does saying where a sex offender lives protect children. What about those that murder children? Where's the feel good list of those people... and not just murders that kill children, but that kill all ages and animals. This is not fair or right to point out one group of felons who have served their time, and trying to get back into society as law abiding citizens
Oct. 3, 2013, 1:08 pm
R. Grooms from MO says:
Also to point out that 95% of sexual assaults against children come from the family and friends who have access to the child, and are NOT on the registry. The chance that a sex offender will reoffend is a 5% chance. Less than any other criminals. Parents want to protect there kids, they need to watch them and teach them how to protect themselves. Sexual predator is not a one time offense. Predator implies that they are always on the hunt for their next victim which is not the case with the majority of the guys on the registry. There are also kids on the registry in some states.
Oct. 3, 2013, 1:13 pm
What Are You Talking About from Queens says:
To R.Grooms - predators should be kept away from children. That 5% is a crock. Just ask JC Dugard - her captor got out after 11 years of a 30 rape sentence and promptly kidanpped her. These animals do not belong in American society. Send them to live with the animals in Gitmo or Iran is another choice, after all their new president married his wife when she was 14.
Oct. 3, 2013, 1:32 pm
Vicki Henry from All neighborhoods says:
This is deplorable political pandering at the expense of our registrant families who are harassed, beaten, ostracized, property damaged, and even murdered because politicians like Saffran are playing to "public fear factor" to get them elected.

There is NO EMPIRICAL EVIDENCE suggesting a need for such restrictions and Mr. Saffran knows that.

There are over 751,158 men, women and children (as young as 6 and 8 in some states) required to register. Too bad you say? Here are some of their crimes; urinating in public (indecent exposure), sexting, incest, mooning, exposure, false accusations by a soon-to-be ex-wife, angry girlfriend, or spiteful student, viewing abusive OR suggestive images of anyone 18 years old or younger, playing doctor, solicitation, Romeo and Juliet consensual sexual dating relationships, rape and many others. Also, if a state is positioning themselves to become SORNA compliant the registry includes ex post facto registrants and juveniles.

If you think the great state of New York can "effectively" manage all this maybe you should talk to one of the Police Chiefs.

Realizing this is a City Counsel proposal by a politician I need to remind folks the recidivism rate for another sexual offense by a registrant is 5.3% then I will go on to say academics and researchers have repeatedly documented the three things needed for successful re-entry is; a job, a place to live and a good support system (family). The other 85% of sexual offenses come from within the family, their friends or those having access to the childre (Jerry Sandusky).

Vicki Henry
Women Against Registry dot com
Oct. 3, 2013, 1:33 pm
Vicki Henry from All neighborhoods says:
What are you talking about......Jaycee Dugard's abuser was on a registry and was visited by the authorities several times, right? So what good did a registry do?

Elizabeth Smart's abductor and abuser was not on any registry and that is the folks the public is told to steer clear of. Again, what good does a public registry do?

Even John Walsh has said the registry is not being used as designed.
Vicki Henry
Oct. 3, 2013, 1:39 pm
RWVNRAL from Salem, Mass says:
And this will end the torment of sex offenses in what way? How many sex offenses occur at playgrounds to begin with? I'd be willing to stake good money on the belief that nary a sex offense has ever been committed at ANY playground anywhere near Queens. But, I will guarantee you that sex offenses are occurring this very moment in the homes of its residents. Does Mr. Saffran have a solution for that?
Oct. 3, 2013, 9:52 pm
RWVNRAL from Salem, Mass says:
I don't know who "What are you talking about" is... but the 5% number is NOT a crock. IT is the very solid evidence of a whole host of rigorous studies that WERE NOT funded by law enforcement sources. Indeed, our very own JUSTICE DEPARTMENT cites this number as statistically established. Anything ELSE is a crock...and is driven by the very same frenzied zealotry to which you have very obviously fallen prey.
Oct. 3, 2013, 9:57 pm
Shelly Stow from All says:
As several have already pointed out, there is no empirical evidence that supports this type of legislation; in fact, it is contra-indicated. These types of restrictions close more and more areas of the city to registrants, which drives them further from the social services they need and closes off more and more neighborhoods where they can find decent homes in which to raise their children take care of their families. These facts, coupled with the huge body of evidence that shows no correlation between residency restrictions and public safety, make a move toward residency restrictions a very unwise choice and a clear indication that someone hasn't done his homework.
Oct. 3, 2013, 10:24 pm
Steve from Bayside says:
This is the most worthless piece of "legislation" I've ever seen.

Mr. Saffran, please go run in Nassau County, where you work and have spent a majority of your career in. Northeast Queens isn't interested in your racist, homophobic, narrow minded, thick headed Republican platforms. The last 4 years our district has been an embarrassment in the Borough of Queens, thanks to our felon City Councilman.

I recently read an article saying that our district was 51st (last) in funding for the last 4 years...... Enough of these worthless republicans, show them the door and hopefully the end of their influence on NYC.
Oct. 4, 2013, 1:56 am
FRegistryTerrorists from Nassau says:
Dennis Saffran is a dangerous, un-American criminal who needs to be Registered.

Isn't most of the U.S. beyond this pure moronic "park" idiocy? Haven't the intelligent people sent people like criminal Saffran home? Did criminal Saffran miss that? This is nothing but transparent grandstanding. "Look at me, look at me, I'm 'tough' on sex offenders!!"

So, criminal Saffran, if you are so big on "protecting children" and your other BS lies, why don't you please explain to us all why you aren't proposing that your useless little law simply include ALL people who have been convicted of harming someone else? Or is it really okay with you that people who have SHOT CHILDREN IN PARKS are just fine in your parks? Or how about people who manufacture drugs? Do you think a park is a pretty good market? Perhaps they can hand out free samples to the children? How about people who "accidentally" beat a child to death? You do realize that none of those people stay in prison, right?

And here's the deal about "child molesters" - they are quite easy to thwart if you educate and supervise your children. I know, you aren't interested in facts.

Criminal Saffran' law would "work" just like the Registries themselves "work" - it would harass, ostracize, and punish the vast majority (> 95%) of families listed on the nanny Registries that are doing nothing but living normal, law-abiding lives like any other normal family and it would do absolutely nothing to even slightly hinder anyone else listed from committing any crime that he/she would like. Unfortunately, that is the reality of the Registries and especially useless, moronic laws such as proposed by criminal Saffran.

Lastly, since criminal Saffran is such a fan of nanny big government, I am completely shocked that this article does not mention his efforts to get all of the rest of the nanny big government Registries created. Does he not realize that we actually don't Register people who shoot people? Or people who use guns to commit crimes? Etc., etc., etc., etc., etc., etc. Sounds like criminal Saffran has dropped the ball.
Oct. 4, 2013, 8:27 am
HUH? from Your Town says:
To Shelly who is only worried that these criminals will not get the social services they need...what is your problem. The only social service they need is actual or chemical castration. Wake up and live in the real world!
Oct. 4, 2013, 10:29 am
D.J. says:
Saffran is an ignorant, fear-mongering pig. There is no evidence that residency laws protect children or anyone else, and plenty of evidence that they make it almost impossible for many offenders to find any place to live or work. Politicians like this are sickening.
Oct. 4, 2013, 12:01 pm
Shelly Stow from All neighborhoods says:
HUH? I apologize that my intent was not clear. I will assume that you recognize that, as we live in a reasonably civilized country, your solution of actual castration isn't an option. Chemical castration is a choice of some offenders but has not proven a desirable one due to very negative side effects.

Therefore, when those who have committed sexual crimes have served their sentences, they are released to live in the community just as those who have committed other crimes.

We then have choices. Do we want them to re-offend, or do we want them not to re-offend? I believe the answer to that one is self-evident. So, again we have choices, but these choices have solid research and empirical evidence to help us.

These are the factors that are positively correlated with not re-offending: employment; decent housing; access to treatment and other social services; family support; community support.

And these are the factors that are correlated with a higher risk for re-offending or committing another crime: the lack of employment, decent housing, access to treatment and other social services; family and community support.

It isn't about feeling sorry for anyone; it is about doing what will create a safer society.

I don't have a problem, sir or madam, and I hope that you have none either. Blessings to you and yours.
Oct. 4, 2013, 4:37 pm
Adam from Whitestone says:
D.J., care to elaborate? Doesn't seem to be much out there about Saffran. But honestly, I don't want another Republican representing me.
Oct. 5, 2013, 2:13 am

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