SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — Two months after Christopher Block cut off his ankle bracelet and hid from police in Skaneateles, the Onondaga County Legislature is calling on New York State to do better next time.
With a unanimous vote, the legislature voted on a memorializing resolution that the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision “improve collaboration” with local police and “enact specific targeted communication protocol… that will immediately alert the local community” the next time a violent parolee is on the run.
Legislator Julie Abbott-Kenan, who sponsored the legislation, represents Skaneateles and has heard from countless people furious they weren’t notified that Christopher Block could be running through their back yards.
Block cut off his GPS-monitor ankle bracelet at the intersection of Kane Avenue (Route 41A) and Prentiss Drive in Skaneateles. It took nearly 18 hours for the State Department of Corrections to confirm his disappearance to NewsChannel 9.
Fewer than 50 homes received reverse-911 calls with a vague warning, which was initiated by the Onondaga County Sheriff’s Office, not the Department of Corrections.
Legislator Abbott-Kenan went ahead with the legislation after her requests from information from the State haven’t been answered.
The most she’s heard is what Governor Andrew Cuomo told NewsChannel 9 in August.
Governor Cuomo said, “We’re looking into how exactly the Department of Corrections handled it. “
Cuomo added, “The calculation at DOCCS was they, from the get-go, had good leads and good information and they didn’t want to endanger their investigation by disclosing what they knew and when they knew it.”
“But, I understand the flip side also,” Cuomo said. “The public wants to know. The public has a right to know. And we have to balance those two needs. We’re going to look into exactly how DOCCS did what they did here to make sure they were balancing those two needs.”
Legislator Abbott-Kenan tells NewsChannel 9, “Human error happens. That’s okay. Nobody is looking to crucify anybody, but you can acknowledge and learn from it and that’s what I hope comes from this. So when this happens again, because it will, nobody gets hurt.”
When asked if a memorializing resolution at the county level has any teeth at the state level, Legislature Chairman Dave Knapp tells NewsChannel 9: “Sure it does. It will go to our state delegation in addition to our state bureaucracy. It certainly holds some weight. It keeps the conversation going.”
NewsChannel 9 was the only television news organization to attend the vote Tuesday in the Onondaga County Legislature.
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