TOO CLOSE FOR COMFORT (Most of the Level 2 and 3 sex offenders in Babylon live near where kids congregate, but law can’t stop them)
Babylon town officials recently started using a mapping system to enforce a county residency restriction law and promptly discovered the vast majority of offenders in town are living closer than allowed by law to places where children congregate. Of the town's 56 Level 2 and 3 sex offenders, or moderate and high-risk offenders, the mapping system shows 41 live within a quarter-mile of such places as schools, playgrounds, date care centers and parks. All but one of those offenders had moved into their residences before June, when the legislation was passed, and therefore are not affected by that portion of the law. Babylon is using Geographic Information System software, which draws quarter-mile circles around vulnerable entities such as schools and shades them on a detailed map of the town. When a sex offender moves into the town, the GIS system identifies the address and alerts Babylon officials if the offender is in violation of the country residency restriction. Babylon Supervisor Steven Bellone said town officials will check the New York State Sex Offender Registry daily for newly arrived offenders. The map will be updated monthly to reflect new schools or day care centers. Laura Ahearn of Parent for Megan's Law said it was the first time a town supervisor had aggressively addressed illegal housing of sex offenders. Landlords who don't have an investment in the quality of life and in child safety in the communities they are renting in will exploit those communities for a profit, Ahearn said.