Suffolk County Police working to improve how it deals with missing person cases

Kristin Thorne Image
Tuesday, March 14, 2023
Suffolk County Police are refocusing how missing persons cases will be handled
Suffolk County Police are refocusing how missing persons cases will be handled, as there are 65 active cases. Kristin Thorne has more on the investigations.

SUFFOLK COUNTY (WABC) -- It is rare to see people stop and listen - and listen intently to strangers handing out flyers. However, when the faces on the flyers are missing people - that changes everything.

"If I had a family member missing it would rip my heart out, not knowing where they are, if they're ok, even if they're alive or not," said community ambassador Debbie Virga.

The Suffolk County Police Department is making it a point to improve how it deals with its missing persons cases. They are putting a supervisor from the Chief of Detectives in charge of the cases who will make sure the cases are reviewed every week.

"Additionally every Monday, we're going to have a missing persons Monday on our social media platform," said Suffolk County Police Chief Rodney Harrison.

The department's community ambassadors will be the boots on the ground - handing out flyers and seeking information from the community.

"What could be more important than reuniting a missing person with their grieving family," said community ambassador Gail Bailey.

Suffolk County Police say they have 65 active missing persons cases - some of them date back to the early 80s.

RELATED | Season 2 of Eyewitness News' investigative true crime series 'Missing' now streaming on Hulu

The reasons people disappear vary greatly - sometimes people want to - and Suffolk County Police want to be able to handle that better, too.

"If someone happens to go missing and they have unfortunately some mental issues, we're going to make sure our behavioral health unit reaches out," Harrison said.

ALSO READ | Pennsylvania woman missing since 1992 found alive in Puerto Rico

Bob Kopta reported his wife, Patricia, missing in 1992. She was a Pittsburgh street preacher, also known as "The Sparrow."


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