From neighborhood watch apps to security threat texts – in this digital age, law enforcement has no shortage of ways to reach residents.
On a near daily basis, Captain Tyler Chandler with Mt. Juliet police turns to such an app, catering and delivering information to those most concerned.
His department has teamed up with the private social network, Nextdoor.
“NextDoor is a unique, neighborhood-based way for residents to communicate,” Chandler explained. “But it also allows us to communicate as a police department. We promote it as a virtual neighborhood watch.”
It’s a neighborhood watch in a new era, and Nextdoor is just one of a handful of such apps.
The department has offered the service for around a decade, after teaming up with a third-party company.
When a crime is committed and passed through records management, a small indicator will appear on a virtual, interactive map in just a matter of hours.
“Ideally, everywhere in Nashville is a good spot, but that’s very subjective,” explained Matt Morley, with Metro police. “We try to provide the public with information so that they can make their own decisions.”
While apps and maps may be handy enough, some departments opt for a more direct approach.
Nixle is a largely text-based notification service. The program is used by over 8,000 agencies, and perhaps soon, by the Lebanon Police Department.
“Anything that happens within the city – anybody that has texted that code in – will automatically get a message saying, ‘Hey, this is going on,’” explained Sgt. P.J. Hardy, Public Information Officer with Lebanon police. “I’d like to see it as a platform for the city. I think that’d be awesome.”
Sgt. Hardy’s department has seen a crime-busting boom by posting surveillance pictures and videos to social media and asking the public for information.
“For us as a police department, our closure rate on crimes and reports is higher than it’s ever been,” he said. “It’s a huge benefit to us, and I think people actually like that we ask for help.”
They also like when people are proactive, turning to apps and crime maps for safety.