Tag Archives: U.S. Department of Justice

Bills introduced to City Council to help individuals with developmental disorders


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photo by Angy Altamirano

A package of bills was introduced to the City Council Friday with the hope of preventing a tragedy similar to the disappearance of autistic teen Avonte Oquendo.

The 14-year-old was last seen at the Center Boulevard School in Long Island City across the street from the East River in October, when he ran out, past school security. Almost four months later his remains were found washed up in College Point.

The City Council’s Mental Health and Public Safety Committee held a joint hearing Friday where the four proposals, all aimed to avoid dangers to individuals with autism and other developmental disorders, were presented.

“We’ve had several tragedies in the last couple of years in New York City, so it’s always heartwretching when we do legislation that reacts to tragedy, but on one hand it helps us to make sure these tragedies never happen again,” said Councilman Ruben Wills, who spearheaded the group of bills in the City Council together with Councilwoman Vanessa Gibson.

One of the bills calls upon the state’s Office for People with Developmental Disabilities to include the use of GPS tracking devices as a covered service.

The package also includes legislation that would create a voluntary registry for people with special needs. The database, including names, addresses, phone numbers, medical conditions and more, would allow parents or guardians to register their children with the NYPD at local police precincts.

The other two bills call for the city’s silver alert program to include missing people with developmental disorders and for the U.S. Department of Justice to fund any projects that would help protect and locate missing people with autism.

“We know that [Avonte’s death] was an unspeakable tragedy and certainly we are here as a collective to prevent anything like that from occurring across our city,” Gibson said.

For Lauren Thierry, Avonte’s disappearance hit close to home because her 16-year-old autistic son, Liam, attends the New York Child Learning Institute in College Point.

The past two years, Thierry has been creating a clothing line, called Independence Day Wearable Tech, which makes clothes that include internal pockets to fit GPS devices. Customers get a free GPS device when they purchase an item.

 

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New council district lines in effect in time for election


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

Time to line up for the new council districts.

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) approved the city’s 51 new council districts on Monday, May 20. It was the last step in making the lines official.

DOJ had to review the lines along with testimony from residents under Article 5 of the Voting Rights Act, which protects Manhattan, Brooklyn and the Bronx from discrimination on grounds those boroughs have large minority populations.

Carl Hum, executive director of the city’s Districting Commission, said in an open letter the lines will be in effect for this year’s City Council elections.

New lines in Queens faced criticism from residents as neighborhoods were either broken up or divided into two or more districts.

According to Hum, almost 500 people delivered testimony about the lines citywide during three rounds of public hearings. Nearly 1,500 comments were also submitted to the commission either through email or in hard copy.

 

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