Zulma Santiago is a parent, and does her best to stay informed of what goes on at her daughter’s school.
But what she didn’t know, until Eyewitness News told her is that a registered sex offender lives just down the street from her 5-year-old daughter’s school.
We asked her how that made her feel as a parent.
“Not very well, not very well,” said Santiago.
Eyewitness News started our investigation by randomly choosing three elementary schools in Utica.
Using the Family Watchdog website, we put in the school addresses to see if any registered sex offenders lived near by,
According to the site, 11 registered sex offenders had addresses listed within 1000 feet of Kernan Elementary School.
We found another living near Martin Luther King Elementary and another within 1500 feet of Albany Elementary School.
With that information, Eyewitness News did some of our own measuring at Kernan Elementary School.
One house, according to our measurements, was just 499 feet away.
In 2007, The Oneida County Board of Legislators passed a law prohibiting Level 2 and Level 3 registered sex offenders from living within 1500 feet of a school, child care facility, playground, or park.
That law also bans them from entering a 1500 foot range of those areas.
But then there’s the state law.
That law applies to sex offenders just under parole supervision and probation.
Level 3 sex offenders are not supposed to live within 1000 feet of a school and applies to any sex offender who’s victim was under 18.
So why are these registered sex offenders here?
We started out asking the parole department.
The Public Information Office at the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision would not do an on camera interview with Eyewitness News.
When asked why the registered sex offenders on parole are living within 1500 feet, spokeswoman Carole Weaver says they follow state law, which is 1000 feet.
She says they verify the address with local law enforcement agencies.
Ms. Weaver asked us for a list of names of registered sex offenders and their addresses.
She called Eyewitness News back to tell us that several of the registered sex offenders were there legally by the state.
But, one offender had been living within 1000 feet.
For the registered sex offenders off parole, we asked the Utica Police Department.
We’re told the one living just under 500 feet is okay.
He’s grandfathered into the law because he lived at his location before 2007.
But two others, based on their address, were in violation of the law.
What will happen to those sex offenders in violation, and who’s in charge of enforcing the laws?
Eyewitness News will cover those answers and more on Wednesday at 6 and 11.