The Suffolk Police Department has moved a step closer to bypassing traditional news outlets by sending information to residents through a Web-based public notification system.
The online service, Nixle, is used by law enforcement agencies nationwide. A pilot service in the Second Precinct was launched in July. The service is now available in all seven precincts and the Marine Bureau.
Suffolk Police Commissioner Ed Webber said Tuesday it will enhance the department's ability to communicate directly with residents.
"Communication dispels distrust and increases transparency and responsiveness to the public," Webber said at a news conference at Yaphank headquarters. "As the dependency on traditional news sources declines, the ability to communicate via social media will become more and more important to the Suffolk County Police Department in the future."
Webber encouraged residents to sign up for the free service by going to the Suffolk police website and clicking on the Nixle icon at the top of the page. Police will be able to communicate with residents who have signed up through text messages, email, Twitter and Facebook.
Insp. Stuart Cameron helped implement the service with help from the police technology section.
The site allows only law enforcement agencies to send out messages, therefore reducing the threat of spoofs or sites claiming to represent them, Cameron said.
Communications may include emergency alerts, missing person reports and safety tips. Crime information, community outreach efforts or any other public safety issues will also be part of the service.