Suffolk Chief of the Department James Burke, right, and Police...

Suffolk Chief of the Department James Burke, right, and Police Commissioner Edward Webber speak to the Suffolk Legislature in Hauppauge. (May 31, 2012) Credit: Howard Schnapp

Suffolk police leaders said Thursday that despite losses in staff, they've made "significant" progress on a series of initiatives rolled out early this year.

Chief of Department James Burke addressed the Suffolk legislature's Public Safety Committee to follow up his February presentation, in which he detailed a new focus on precinct-level "intelligence-led" policing.

Since then, 69 members of the force have retired under an incentive program offered by County Executive Steve Bellone. That included 29 officers and 31 detectives, more than Bellone had sought.

"Could we do a better job if we had more people? Yeah," Burke said. "But it's working. We're more efficient."

He said fewer officers are deployed without a specific focus. "No one just goes out and drives around anymore. We put cops where crimes are."

Through increased information-sharing between precincts and the department's centralized intelligence bureau, officers have recently identified 13 countywide crime patterns, 11 precinct-level patterns and four countywide trends, many yielding arrests, Burke said. A pattern involves similar crimes committed by the same people; a trend includes multiple, unconnected suspects committing the same type of crime.

Burke said intelligence is now developed and shared all the way down to dispatchers and civilian analysts at precincts. He said narcotics investigators now work closely with organized crime and anti-gang teams, after having previously been "warehoused separately.

"The key is communication between all divisions," he said. "We want everyone in this organization thinking about crime constantly."

The department's internal website lists daily patterns and trends on its home page. On Thursday, there was a posting about the thefts of landscaping equipment in the 4th Precinct.

Parolees and probationers are also being closely watched. Burke said their locations are mapped, allowing officers a starting point when investigating crimes that match the kinds these people have been connected to previously.Legis. Louis D'Amaro (D-North Babylon) asked Burke for crime statistics to confirm the success of the new initiatives. "What results are you seeing?" D'Amaro said.

Burke declined to provide this year's numbers, saying it was too early to tell.

"Before I make an assessment, I'd like to see the results over a longer period of time," he said, promising another report later in the year.

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