Protesters: Keep BDC open, offenders off streets

By Jillian Marshall
By Samantha Sonner

March 27, 2014 Updated Mar 27, 2014 at 11:26 PM EDT

Binghamton, NY (WBNG Binghamton) More than 100 protesters -- most of them parents -- lined the streets outside Government Plaza Thursday to fight the proposed closure of the Broome Developmental Center.

"They are putting these people right in our backyard, and some of them are sex offenders and some of them are very dangerous people," said Dave Lindsey, who organized the downtown rally.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is planning to close the BDC and other centers like it to consolidate services across the state, and save money.

Protesters said they are concerned their families will be at risk if potentially dangerous people are moved into the community.

One of the protesters was Amy Petrick, a victim of child abuse. Petrick said closing the center will just contribute to a growing problem in the community.

"We already have so many pedophiles in the area that are all over the place, and that we know about," Petrick said, "how can we protect ourselves, and protect our family and our children?"

Jean Lindsey, mother of Cheri Lindsey, the young Binghamton girl who was killed by a sex offender in 1984, said someone released from the BDC recently moved just a few blocks from her home.

"He is considered very dangerous. He's molested kids and adults, and he shouldn't be out," Lindsey said.

Democratic County Legislator and father of three, Jason Garnar, spoke at the protest. He said this is not a Democratic issue or a Republican issue, but a community issue.

Protesters also said they are fighting for transparency with the government, so the community can know where potentially dangerous offenders are.

Because of HIPPA, a medical privacy policy, the community will not be informed if an offender moves into their neighborhood, which as some of the protesters said is already the case.

The center is currently scheduled to close in March 2016.

According to a release from Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo's office, State Sen. Tom Libous (R), Lupardo (D) and Assemblyman Clifford Crouch (R) have each made many trips to the governor's office to fight the closure.

Representatives from the New York State Office for People with Developmental Disabilities said they are downsizing and closing institutions like the developmental center to achieve full community integration.

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