Thursday, January 29, 2009
BY DENISA R. SUPERVILLE
PARK RIDGE — Police used the reverse 911 system borough-wide for the first time yesterday to inform residents about a string of burglaries and to enlist their help in solving them.
Police made 2,778 calls in 10 minutes yesterday evening, a feat that would have been impossible without the Swift 911 system, Lt. Joseph Rampolla said today.
“In 10 minutes, we basically blanketed the entire town,” he said. “There may be some residents we did not get, but we are pretty confident that we reached out to a good percentage of the population.”
Residents answered all but 410 of the phone calls, he said.
Swift 911 is an emergency alert system sold by Mahwah-based Swiftreach Networks. It allows the users to call, e-mail or send text message alerts to residents who register. Police sent 299 e-mails and 41 text messages yesterday , in addition to the phone calls.
Police are investigating three residential burglaries on quiet cul-de-sacs, one at a florist shop on Kinderkamack Road and an attempted burglary at a restaurant on Kinderkamack Road. Police think the residential burglaries are connected, Rampolla said.
Bill Beattie, the borough’s director of operations, said the borough installed the system in August 2007. The utilities department and the office of emergency management originally planned to use it during emergencies, but it was turned over to the police last year.
Stephen Nagel, a 15-year-old boy scout, started canvassing the borough last year for an Eagle Scout project to add phone numbers to the database. Nagel said today he was proud that his effort may aid the police thwart crimes.
“It made me feel like I did a good service to the community,” said Nagel, who was at a friend’s house when his mother received the reverse 911 call yesterday.
Police said they have been satisfied with the response so far. They have received numerous tips, and residents who did not receive the alert called to find out how they could sign up.
“We are collecting more information than we ever could have collected, and that can only help” Rampolla said.
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