Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that the state's Sex Offender Registry will now display multiple photographs of convicted sex offenders, in an effort to make offenders more recognizable to law enforcement personnel and the public.
"Expanding New York's Sex Offender Registry to include multiple photographs helps ensure that we are providing the most accurate and up-to-date information on offenders living in the state," Governor Cuomo said. "This important expansion is designed to make offenders more recognizable and account for changes in appearance, which increases public awareness and makes the Registry an even better resource for law enforcement agencies to monitor their communities. These are necessary additions that will help keep our neighborhoods safe and better protect our children."
The state Division of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS) maintains the Registry and its online subdirectory, which is posted to the agency's website: www.criminaljustice.ny.gov/nsor. Multiple photos of offenders will be posted to the Registry and subdirectory as they become available, with the ultimate goal of having multiple photos posted of every registered offender. Prior to this change, only one photo of an offender could be included.
DCJS Executive Deputy Commissioner Michael C. Green said, "The Sex Offender Registry is an important tool for local law enforcement professionals, and the inclusion of multiple photos provides officers with additional information that they can use to better monitor offenders who live in their communities."
Monroe County Sheriff Patrick M. O'Flynn, president of the New York State Sheriffs' Association, said, "The ability to post and display multiple photos of registered sex offenders is an important upgrade to the system, which will clearly aid law enforcement and better protect our citizens."
Colonie Police Chief Steven H. Heider, president of the New York State Association of Chiefs of Police, said, "The expansion of the Registry to include multiple photographs of an offender will help the police and the public. The Sex Offender Registration Act has been amended over the years to make the Registry a better resource. The physical appearance of a person can change over time and the inclusion of various images of an offender will help law enforcement in their monitoring responsibilities, and will help the public in better recognizing a subject from prior years."
Mary Haviland, executive director of the New York City Alliance Against Sexual Assault, said, "The Sex Offender Registry is a tool that communities can use to be aware of the offenders who are living in their area. These additional pictures provide useful information in the event that an offender's appearance has changed. The New York City Alliance supports the Division of Criminal Justice Service's program to make this information publically available within the parameters of current law."
There are currently 36,336 registered sex offenders in New York State, classified by risk level: Level 1, which is a low risk of re-offense; Level 2, medium risk of re-offense; and Level 3, high risk of re-offense.
An offender's risk level dictates what information is available and how that information can be accessed by the public. By law, only information about medium and high-risk offenders can be posted to the online subdirectory. The public can search for an offender according to the individual's last name, county or zip code.
Level 1 and Level 2 offenders must update their photographs every three years, while Level 3 offenders are required to update their photographs annually. Level 3 offenders and those offenders who have been designated sexual predators also must personally verify their addresses every 90 days with law enforcement; if an offender's appearance has changed at that time, police may photograph the offender and submit the updated photo to the Registry.