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Aug 15, 2016 1:14 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

New Information Sharing System Links Westhampton Beach And Suffolk County Police Departments

Suffolk County Police Commissioner Timothy D. Sini discusses the new LEAP portal. BY ERIN MCKINLEY
Aug 16, 2016 1:48 PM

A new system designed to make it easier for Suffolk County Police to share information with other independent police departments has been implemented in Westhampton Beach Village.

The Suffolk County Law Enforcement Access Portal, or LEAP, was created to make it easier for officers and investigators from different departments to share information, including arrest reports, accidents and incidents with other agencies. It was created, according to Suffolk County Police Commissioner Timothy D. Sini, after a meeting with Westhampton Beach Village Police Chief Trevor Gonce, who suggested a system where information can be shared among investigators with less hassle.

The key to the program, Chief Gonce said during a press conference at Village Police headquarters on Monday morning, is the way information is shared through a central database. In the past, investigators would have to call a corresponding agency to find out if there were any similar incidents in an area or to learn more information about past incidents involving a suspect. Now, the officer can pull up the information through the database and map out similar crimes to find patterns.

“This tool is invaluable to the police department and will continue to grow in value as more departments in Suffolk become connected to the system,” Chief Gonce said on Monday morning.

A pilot program was put into place in Westhampton Beach roughly three months ago at no cost to village taxpayers, Commissioner Sini said Monday at the press conference. Suffolk officials also noted that the system was created in-house, so there was no additional costs accrued by the county.

The portal is currently available to only the Westhampton Beach and Suffolk County departments, but officials hope to expand the program soon to departments in all five East End towns—Southampton, East Hampton, Southold, Riverhead and Shelter Island. Officers in Westhampton Beach can now access the database from both their desktops and squad cars.

“This is an enormous tool for investigators trying to be proactive to prevent and investigate crime,” Commissioner Sini said.

According to Suffolk County Legislator Bridget Fleming, who also attended Monday’s press conference, the system is a valuable asset to the county that will particularly help the five East End towns that all have their own, individual police forces, as well as various village departments within those towns.

“I can tell you that it is a real challenge to tackle crime on the East End,” she said. “We have all of these East End towns that have their own local police departments, which means these women and men are working hard and know their communities well in a way that the larger departments don’t, but at the same time we don’t have the resources that Suffolk County might have.

“This portal is an example of where the whole is greater than just the sum of the two parts,” Ms. Fleming added. “The great information that Chief Gonce and his department will be able to provide to the portal will be vital information for investigators.”

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This idea is very basic -- why is it just being implemented now?

Oh wait -- this Gonce is the Police Chief the Village Board DIDN'T want to hire, right?

By Frank Wheeler (1826), Northampton on Aug 15, 16 11:05 PM
Who's on first? What sold what where to who?
By Mouthampton (439), Southampton on Aug 15, 16 11:29 PM
Way to go Chief Gonce! Great work.
By briantymann (31), westhampton beach on Aug 16, 16 11:52 AM
Try not to be too snarky, Mr. Wheeler. Often the best ideas are the simplest ones. Great work indeed, Chief Gonce. Thanks also to County Legislator Bridget Fleming for recognizing and articulating the value of LEAP.
By Turkey Bridge (1979), Quiogue on Aug 18, 16 5:11 PM