Police tout networking for safer neighborhoods: Code Red, Nextdoor.com

MILFORD — One quiet, unmarked police car from the Milford Police Department rolled so slowly through the Meadows of Shawnee development Thursday night that the calls of tree frogs and toads still cut through all other nighttime sounds.

code redLt. Ed Huey of the Milford Police Department said police were in the area after a juvenile resident reported being chased by a man matching the description of Chad Neibert, an inmate at the Sussex Correctional Institution in Georgetown. Another resident told him a tall, dark figure could be seen running passed his window at one point.

Neibert recently went missing after walking away from his work release assignment near the Meadows of Shawnee.

“But we know it wasn’t him that night because he was already taken into custody,” Lt. Huey said. “Evenso, it’s our duty to check things out. So we were there.”

An alert was sent out to those local to the development through Code Red, notifying them of the extra police presence and possible activity Thursday night, according to Lt. Huey.

“Code Red helps us keep everyone informed when they need to be. And it’s easy, which helps,” he said. “It’s great because it allows us to send those alerts out to small pockets of people rather than the whole city.”

Lt. Huey also touted the MyPD app, available for free in the App Store or through Google Play, as an additional way to keep residents, visitors and merchants connected with the local police department. The department also frequently utilizes social media through Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

“We do send alerts out on the app and through Code Red, and even social media. Sometimes, it’s reminding residents of an alternative trash pickup schedule. Other times, it’s regarding a safety issue such as the situation in the Meadows,” he added.

Anyone interested in receiving alerts through Code Red can find it via www.cityofmilford.com.

Sergeant Richard Bratz speaks about Nextdoor.com during a press conference last week. Special to The Chronicle and The Journal

Sergeant Richard Bratz speaks about Nextdoor.com during a press conference last week. Special to The Chronicle and The Journal

Nextdoor.com

The Delaware State Police hopes to further the role social media can play in providing safer and more secure communities with a new partnership with NextDoor.com.

The announcement Thursday marks the Delaware State Police as the first state police agency in the country to utilize Nextdoor.com, according to Sergeant Richard Bratz.

“Nextdoor.com is a private and secure social networking tool used to help foster neighbor-to-neighbor communications,” he said in a press release.

Select troops within the Delaware State Police have been selected to monitor parts of Nextdoor.com, but Sgt. Bratz said they will not be able to see what private neighborhood members are saying on the platform.

“They’ll be able to see how many posts were created in the ‘crime and safety’ category, and when the number gets pretty high, they might go to the neighborhood and see what’s going on,” he said. “It’s a great tool for prevention and neighborhood monitoring.”

Nextdoor is a free private and secure social media website that is accessible only to residents of their neighborhood with a verified address, he added. Neighbors establish and self-manage their own Nextdoor.com website. Police will not be able to access resident’s websites, contact information or content.

Although only selected troops throughout the state are piloting the social media platform, anyone in the state of Delaware can participate in the website as “virtual neighborhood watch programs.”

According to Sgt. Bratz, more than 371 neighborhoods have launched their private and secured website with 79 more neighborhoods having initiated their websites in Delaware, accounting for over 25,000 actively engaged community members within the Delaware State Police jurisdiction.

“The Delaware State Police continues to pursue our goals of strengthening community partnerships, crime reduction, traffic safety and leveraging technology to improve our efficiency,” Superintendent of the Delaware State Police Colonel Nathaniel McQueen, Jr., said.

“The Nextdoor platform will be implemented at no cost to tax payers. Nextdoor is a private social media network for neighborhoods which we hope will facilitate stronger and safer neighborhoods across  the state.”

The Delaware State Police will be able to share crime prevention and safety updates on the platform, although with free community safety events and urgent alert notifications, although Sgt. Bratz emphasized that Nextdoor.com cannot be used to file reports of suspicious or criminal activity or request emergency services.

“We hope residents will take advantage of the tools we have to offer to help keep everyone informed and safe,” Lt. Huey said.

Jennifer Antonik can be reached at mc@newszap.com

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