Niagara Gazette

Columns

February 25, 2013

HIGGS: Community questions and answers

Niagara Gazette — This will be the last column on the annual Block Club Council Retreat. These past weeks are an example of the education we receive from our elected and appointed public officials who feel it is worth their time and effort to attend our event each year to update our block club members and other interested citizens.

Questions and answers follow:

“Has the state ever considered a ‘three strikes and you’re out’ rule?”

District Attorney Michael Violante responded “There is one — if you are a third-time felon, it is appropriate for the DA to request a hearing and sentence as persistence felon.”

“Tremendous number of sex offenders in 14303, why? During the past six months, 15 new sex offenders in area.”

Many jumped in to comment on this issue. Mayor Paul Dyster stated on the sad story that our community generates sex offenders. They have to live some place, unless they are incarcerated. He noted as mayor he cannot influence but those that write laws can.

Code Enforcement Director Dennis Virtuoso added one of the city ordinances states they cannot live within 1,500 feet of places where children congregate; the state law is 1,000 feet. Niagara County Legislature recently passed resolution for state to change to correspond to the city’s 1,500 feet requirement. The city recently did a comprehensive study and found that there are really very few areas sex offenders can live without violating these boundaries. The responsibility lies with Parole and Social Services to keep them within the required number of feet which is difficult in Niagara Falls, a city of parks, playgrounds, day care centers, Sunday schools etc. Violante stated he would be happy to co-author a letter to Director of Parole in Albany to determine why we are getting people that never lived here. Police Superintendent Bryan DalPorto is also working on the issue.

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