Engaging the community

Published 9:19 pm Friday, August 5, 2016

The Suffolk Police Department has taken some unusual steps recently to help neighborhoods join the fight against crime.

On the heels of another successful National Night Out celebration, which brings communities — including dozens across Suffolk — together with police and city officials in an annual recommitment to crime prevention, Suffolk has taken to two very different media to encourage residents to work with them to reduce crime in their neighborhoods.

A partnership with Nextdoor, a social networking platform for neighborhoods, will help city officials target specific communities for special announcements about criminal activity, suspicious vehicles and more. The platform also allows folks in participating communities to share more mundane news, like household items for sale, lost pets and service recommendations.

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Partnering with Nextdoor will help the police department get information out to a specific community without having to send broad messages to everyone in Suffolk and without using the Reverse 911 system to bother people with calls they might not want.

City officials also look forward to being able to use their other social media accounts, which are often monitored by folks from other cities, solely for good news.

Another attempt at using unusual media to get crime-related information in front of the people who need it most has been evident recently near the Hillpoint community, located off Godwin Boulevard near Route 58, and on Harbour View Boulevard near Hampton Roads Parkway.

Police used a variable message board, like the ones usually seen announcing road work or traffic changes, to warn citizens about the dangers of leaving their cars unlocked. “Safety hazard 7 PM-7AM,” flashed across the sign, and then, “Keep cars locked.”

Both of those areas have experienced a rash of thefts from vehicles in recent months, and police were looking for a good way to remind residents that there is something very simple they can do to keep from becoming victims: lock their cars. The vast majority of such thieves target unlocked vehicles.

Kudos to Suffolk police for thinking outside of the box in their efforts to engage the community in the fight against crime.