Scarborough Police Department joins online community

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SCARBOROUGH — The Police Department is bringing neighborhood crime watches into the virtual world through a new online partnership.

The department is participating on Nextdoor.com, a social network that allows neighborhood residents to communicate and work together. Each neighborhood in Scarborough has its own private page on the website, where residents can post information and talk about issues.

Scarborough police officers can also use the site to interact with residents.

“Having the ability to easily communicate with residents is extremely vital to not only maintaining, but also increasing safety and reducing crime within our Scarborough communities,” Police Department crime analyst Jaime Higgins said in a press release.

The hope is that police officers and residents can work together to increase safety and keep an eye on what’s going on in the town’s neighborhoods.

“With Nextdoor, we can empower neighbors to keep their communities safe and connected and give them the ability to collaborate on virtual neighborhood watch efforts,” Higgins said.

Residents can use Nextdoor to discuss a range of topics, including public safety issues, lost pets, events, and local services. Police will use Nextdoor to issue crime alerts, emergency notifications, safety precautions, and information about events or meetings.

Police won’t be able to able to access neighborhood discussion pages; they are only for people who live in those neighborhoods.

Higgins said Nextdoor is great for people, particularly elderly people, who don’t use social media. The Scarborough Police Department uses other forms of social media to communicate with residents, but Higgins said they don’t reach everyone. She said Nextdoor will benefit people who prefer a website setting.

In the press release, Higgins said one in four neighborhoods across the country are on Nextdoor. She said as of Wednesday, 184 Scarborough residents had signed up. She said the department is encouraging all residents to register on the site.

Higgins said Nextdoor strengthens communities and encourages people to look out for one another.

“Statistically when you know your neighbor, you’re more likely to care and watch out for them,” she said.

Kate Gardner can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 125 or kgardner@theforecaster.net. Follow her on Twitter: @katevgardner.

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I'm a reporter for The Forecaster covering Freeport, Yarmouth, Chebeague Island, and Cape Elizabeth. I'm from a small town in NH no one's ever heard of. When not reporting, I can be found eating pasta and reading books, often at the same time.