Elma officials plan to give local sex offender law more ‘teeth’
Town of Elma officials are tightening restrictions and adding enforcement to the municipality’s law concerning sex offender residency, following a violation that led to a confrontation with law enforcement.
During a work session on April 12, Town Supervisor Dennis Powers said the municipality was prompted to amend the law after a sex offender moved into a residence within 2,000 feet of Elma Village Green Park, and was “a little out of control,” accord- ing to the Erie County sheriff’s deputy who approached him.
“She called for backup,” he said. “She wasn’t going to put up with his language or his conduct any longer.”
After advisement by the Erie County Sheriff’s Office and state police, Powers said he and Code Enforcement Officer Joe Colern drafted an amended version of the town’s 2006 law that significantly shortens the mandatory relocation period for offenders, which is currently six months.
“Joe and I both agree that six months should be reduced to 60 days,” he said. “Six months is way too long to allow an offender to stay there.”
The amended law’s language also broadens those who are affected by it, namely, “any sex offender that has received a level one, two, or three designation” under state law.
Currently, only sex offenders with a level three designation are specified.
Powers said the amended law should prove more effective than its predecessor, which is inadequate in scope and enforcement.
“It did not address all three levels of sex offenders, and it did not have enough teeth to allow Joe to write an appearance ticket,” he said.
Just like the existing law, violators under the amended law will be subject to a fine of $1,500 per day or 15 days in jail.
Those who are in violation would be notified by Colern and have 10 days to relocate. Failure to comply would result in immediate issuance by Colern of an appearance ticket for Town Court. Colern may request backup by Sheriff’s Office personnel, if necessary.
Areas in the town that offenders are directed to distance themselves from when choosing a residence include “places and/or areas children traditionally meet and congregate,” such as playgrounds and parks, public and private schools, and libraries.
The board was scheduled to vote on the amended law at its meeting on Wednesday, which occurred after press time.