New tool in fight against crime

Published 10:34 pm Friday, February 15, 2013

You might have expected the robocalls to stop tying up your house phone on the day after the election. But even as the ringing in their ears began to fade last week, residents of the Saratoga portion of the city were headed back to their phones this week to hear from an automated calling system urging them to get up, get out and take action.

The point of the automated calls was not to convert voters, to get them to head out to the polls or to ensure that one candidate prevailed over the others. The point was to get information that might help solve a crime, Suffolk’s first murder of the year. Suffolk police have taken the unusual step of using the department’s Reverse 911 system to ask the residents of the Saratoga community whether they saw anything that might help them learn who shot 31-year-old Carlton Holland Jr. in the 400 block of Linden Avenue at about 3 a.m. on Jan. 1.

Reverse 911 is often used to warn residents who have registered for the service about storms, traffic and other important information and updates about their community and the city around them. According to Police Chief Thomas Bennett, this is one of the first times the police department has used the system to seek information from the public, instead of the other way around.

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Police believe, however, that someone who was at the party Holland had been attending must have seen something, and they’re hoping the robocalls will help jog those memories.

We commend the police department for the creative way it is using the available technology. And we also call on the people who were at that New Year’s Eve party or who might have been on the street when Holland was shot to take heed of the police department’s call for help. It’s time for that community to help solve its crime problem.