Dallas neighbors now have a new crime-fighting tool at their fingertips, technology that’s helping to make the city safer as a virtual neighborhood watch.
Dallas Police Chief David Brown said the social media site NextDoor.com is helping people connect with the neighbors and increasing communication to hopefully reduce crime.
“It’s the old grandmother looking out the blinds in the virtual world is what we’re trying to be. More importantly, also where we have crime trends, criminality, victimization. Can we push that information that will make Dallas safer through this media,” said Brown.
Nextdoor is a free, private networking option for neighbors.
The department is adding it to its arsenal of online tools, like Facebook and Twitter, which has more than 25,000 contacts.
Each neighborhood in Dallas can set up a site to talk about safety concerns to local events. Users can also directly message a neighbor.
“We talk about things going on in the neighborhood, like I saw a suspicious character around a car, or someone broke into my garage, be on the lookout for that sort of thing. People are dispensing information much more quickly that we might otherwise,” said Nextdoor Elmwood user Kenneth Denson.
More than 100 Dallas police officers are now trained and, beginning Thursday, can post important crime warnings and messages on a site for that specific area.
It’s not something that criminals can easily access, for example, to know when someone will be out of town. It’s password protected and users have to live in the neighborhood and have their address verified.
“All of the information neighbors share is completely private, because it’s not available online through search engines. You have to log in with your account access, so it’s completely safe for you,” said Nextdoor CEO, Nirav Tolia.
More than 120 neighborhoods have already signed up, but there’s about 200 more to go in Dallas.
To join, go to NextDoor.com and enter your address to get started.
Richardson and Richland Hills Police Departments are also on board.