Suffolk police on Tuesday launched a new Facebook page with the mission of catching more criminals by soliciting information from the public.
“SCPD Alerts,” which is separate from the department’s general Facebook page, will feature surveillance photos of bank robbers and burglars, missing persons alerts and information on “most wanted” suspects, Police Commissioner Timothy Sini said Tuesday at a news briefing at police headquarters in Yaphank.
The page, and a new department emphasis on using social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter to communicate with the public and press, comes as the department marks its 22nd anniversary partnering with the non-profit Suffolk Crime Stoppers, which operates independently from the department, Sini said.
“We’ve had great results over the years with Crime Stoppers and this year has truly been a banner year, so we’re very proud of this partnership,” Sini said. “The partnership works because it provides cash rewards for information that leads to an arrest — it’s important to note, not a conviction, an arrest.”
The commissioner said since October 1994, police have made 2,154 arrests using tips from the line — including 42 homicides — and paid out $530,300. In that same time period, the line received a total of 22,287 tips and closed 1,688 active warrants.
Sini said a separate tipline started earlier to report drug crimes — 631-852-NARC — has resulted in over 1,300 tips on drug dealing since March 31.
Suffolk County Crime Stoppers president Nick Amarr, appearing with Sini, emphasized the $15,000 reward for an arrest in the September gang killings of Nisa Mickens and Kayla Cuevas.
“You have a chance now to patriot it up — defend your communities, use the Crime Stoppers,” said Amarr.
One of the first unsolved cases featured on the new alert page is the fatal shootings of David Arzu, 29 and Janelle Curella, 28, as they were walking on a Bay Shore street Sept. 2, police said. Sini would not say Tuesday whether Arzu and Curella were victims of gang violence.
The commissioner emphasized that all those contacting the tip line — which can be reached at 1-800-220-TIPS or by texting 274637, or CRIMES — will not be identified.
“With respect to the online tip submission and the texting of a tip, the phone number and the IP address are automatically encrypted, so again, you remain anonymous,” Sini said.
— With Gary Dymski