NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Parents are speaking out and demanding changes after a dozen registered sex offenders moved in and are living legally near parks and the boardwalk in the Rockaways.
As CBS 2’s Jennifer McLogan reported, police responded to Beach 116th Street following complaints from residents of Rockaway Park, Queens that two convicted sex offenders were living just steps from the boardwalk.
“We don’t want our kids playing on the beach in the summertime especially, knowing that these registered sex offenders could be even on the beach or on the boardwalk at the same time,” parent Delilah DeJesus told McLogan.
Community leaders are angry, saying they only recently learned that more than ten registered sex offenders – including those convicted of molesting, raping and abusing minors – have moved into their tight-knit community on the ocean.
Under current law, sex offenders are not allowed to live within 1,000 feet of a school. But there is nothing to stop them from living next to a park or near the beach.
“I don’t feel comfortable with that. I don’t think that it’s right that they live around this community, especially where there’s a school over there, there’s a park,” Darion Ramkissoon said.
“I think that they should really find a place to keep these guys away from our children and away from communities that really care about that,” Kenneth Gates added.
Parents are demanding action and State Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder now wants to make it illegal for sex offenders to live or congregate within 500 feet of a city park.
That would include the boardwalk in Rockaway and Coney Island, which are classified as parkland, McLogan reported.
“There are no prohibitions for level 2 or level 3 sex offenders from being near the beach or near the boardwalk or near our playgrounds and it’s about time that we close that loophole,” said Goldfeder.
The Children’s Defense Act is being considered in the state assembly. If it passes both houses of the legislature, it could be signed into law before summer.
A sex offender who fails to register his current address could be sent back to prison for up to 10 years.
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