Suffolk County authorities rolled out a new online system Wednesday that will allow residents to file police reports for fender benders, lost items, criminal mischief and other minor incidents without having to travel to a precinct house or wait for officers to come to them.
The Suffolk County Police Department is the first in the Long Island/New York City area to offer online police reports, said County Executive Steve Bellone and Police Commissioner Geraldine Hart. The closest community in New York State with a similar system, according to officials, is Syracuse.
"We want to utilize technology to deliver services to residents in a more efficient way,” Bellone said.
The new system, which will be offered in English and Spanish through the Suffolk County Police Department’s website, SuffolkPD.org, will also free up officers so they can focus on more serious situations, Hart said.
"We now have the ability to allow patrol officers to respond more quickly to emergencies and other situations that require our immediate attention," Hart said.
The time and resources saved could be substantial, Hart said. Suffolk police took 6,726 lost-and-found reports, 3,886 property damage reports and 4,973 criminal mischief reports in 2018, she said.
The types of crimes that can be reported online also include harassing communications and identity theft. Incidents related to emergencies, schools, domestic violence, hate crimes and threats of physical violence will still have to be filed at precinct houses.
Chief of Department Stuart Cameron said the new system will make it easier for people who need insurance reports to file claims for damaged cars or vandalized property, since residents won’t have to wait for officers to show up at their homes or travel to precinct houses to file a complaint. He said the new system, like shopping on Amazon, provides convenience to residents.
“It is completely optional,” Cameron said. “If you want a police officer to come to your house to take a report, we will always come if the public requests us, just like you can always go to a brick-and-mortar store to buy something.”
Suffolk police have already received about 100 online reports since the program’s soft launch in October. Officials said the new system will not require any additional personnel and will be paid for through asset forfeiture funds.