KNOXVILLE (WATE) – Neighborhood Watch is a familiar neighborhood organization that you’ve known about probably since you were a child. Started in 1972, it’s been around for decades helping prevent and alert neighborhoods to crime.
Every year people come together for the National Night Out to fellowship with neighbors. This was the way of the Neighborhood Watch, but more and more people are turning to the Internet and skipping the traditional face to face gathering.
“If you have a few break-ins everybody wants to come to ‘The Watch.’ Everybody wants to get involved and then a couple of weeks later it dies down and they no longer want to do anything,” says Jim Yearwood who helps run the Norwood Neighborhood Watch.
Yearwood says he started the local chapter after his mother’s home was broken into. Now he’s keeping up with the times and engaging neighbors in a different way, using the website nextdoor.com. He already has 126 neighbors in his network ready to chat at the click of a button.
“You are only able to log into the neighborhood that I have set boundaries on. Nobody can look at it. Once they join, they get involved and they tell their neighbors. It’s one thing to where they will talk to us and they sometimes don’t report it to the police department, and that’s one thing I strongly stress is we’ve got to report this to the police so they know what’s going on.”
Captain Bob Wooldridge is seeing more people use sites like nextdoor.com. More than 59,000 neighborhoods across the country use the social networking site to stay connected.
It’s not just community sites that are taking off. R.A.I.D.S Online, a database that posts police reports, is also serving as a tool to keep communities informed.
“It’s just a great way to share information, and ultimately to prevent crime through a better educated public. For them to allow us to receive crime tips, suspect information, or even just to request a close watch of the residence, or increased patrol,” said Capt. Bob Wooldridge with the Knoxville Police Department,
For many neighborhoods it creates a constant loop of information.
- Nextdoor – The private social network for your neighborhood
- RAIDS Online complies crime data and other information from law enforcement agencies to make it easier for the public to stay informed about crime.
- How to make a private Facebook group for your neighborhood