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Poloncarz signs cyberbullying law despite concerns

County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz has signed off on a new law banning cyberbullying against students in Erie County despite "serious doubts" over whether it can be adequately enforced.

The law, passed by the Erie County Legislature last month, makes electronic harassment and bullying against minors and students punishable by a fine of up to $1,000 or up to a year in jail.

Poloncarz, in a letter to the Legislature, said that after speaking to "numerous law enforcement agents" he believes the law would be difficult to prosecute because it would be "too difficult to prove who electronically disseminated the harassing statement without an admission of guilt or eyewitness."

The county executive said he felt that "vetoing this legislation would send the wrong message to our community."

He urged legislators to work with the District Attorney's Office, local schools and Family Court to develop "enhanced and enforceable legislation."

"If we are serious about preventing cyberbullying, a method that includes parents and schools needs to be implemented, and unfortunately this law includes neither as part of the solution," Poloncarz said in a letter to legislators dated March 8.

The new local law was proposed by Legislator Edward A. Rath III, R-Amherst.

Read Poloncarz's letter to legislators here.

-- Denise Jewell Gee

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Erie County executive | Erie County Legislature | Mark C. Poloncarz
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Robert J. McCarthy

Robert J. McCarthy

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