Police Turn to Online Community Platform for Faster Outreach

Law enforcement in Marysville, Calif., have partnered with the neighborhood social media platform Nextdoor as a means of pushing out critical information more effectively.

by Jake Abbott, Appeal-Democrat / February 20, 2018

(TNS) — California's Marysville Police Department recently partnered with a private social network – Nextdoor – and launched a new platform for residents to more easily communicate with officers in their area, and vice versa.

Nextdoor is a website and smartphone application that allows users to communicate and share information with other residents by designated zones. The department’s website went live this week.

“Nextdoor is a private platform, meaning it’s neighborhood-specific. It allows neighbors to communicate with each other for all kinds of things, like with searching for babysitters or to find out about events going on around them,” said interim Police Chief Christian Sachs.

The platform allows the department to interface directly with community members. However, one of the main reasons Sachs and his team want to utilize the platform is because it will allow them to send out information directly to users by zones.

“Ultimately, we would like to be able to push out crime information, so if there are certain things happening in the area we could update residents, or even use it to give updates on different projects,” Sachs said. “We aren’t monitoring the site 24/7, so we encourage anyone looking to report a crime to call the police department directly. This is more of an information sharing network.”

So, if there is a parade going on in town or a special event that might affect traffic, the department can send out information to users in those zones about road closures or other issues, he said.

Nextdoor is free for users and the department.

Geo-fencing benefits

Earlier this year, Sachs announced the department’s plan to establish what is called the Community Partnership Initiative. The program essentially splits the city up into four zones and has a few officers assigned to each. Those officers are tasked with building up a network of community members that will help the department better police the area, and at the same time create an environment of shared ownership and responsibility among community members.

“We called it the Community Partnership Initiative because that’s truly the goal and mission: to partner with the community. The program is department-managed but community-led as a way to get people more involved in their community and with the police department,” Sachs said.

Because the department split the city up into four zones as part of the CPI, Sachs worked with Nextdoor to essentially mirror those zones – what he called “geo-fencing.”

“We tried to mirror the zones the same way to make it less confusing for residents and users,” Sachs said. “We foresee this resulting in more partnerships with residents, businesses, government agencies and everyone else. This will allow for more collaboration and working together to solve community issues as a team.”

Signing up

In order for the website or application to work effectively, it requires community members to buy-in. Sachs said signing up for the platform takes less than a minute -- all it requires is the user’s name, an email and a home address.

For more information about the department’s community policing program, visit www.MarysvillePD.org/CPI.html. There you can view the four zones the police department has established, the officers in charge of those zones, and find a link to the Nextdoor platform.

“The department encourages our citizens to visit this site and sign up today to keep up to date on what is happening in their community,” Sachs said.

©2018 the Appeal-Democrat (Marysville, Calif.) Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.