November 21, 2013 By By Kim Minugh, McClatchy News Service
Sacramento police officials said Wednesday that 10,000 city households have signed up on the Nextdoor social networking site, a goal police had hoped to reach by next summer. Now they're aiming to get another 10,000 households on board by that time.
Police Chief Sam Somers Jr. said the Nextdoor site -- like a Facebook for neighbors -- is an important tool in community-building and crime prevention.
"If we're truly going to make a difference in this city ... it's about prevention," he said in a news conference. "Neighbors that are connected and communicate with each other are safe neighborhoods."
Residents who sign up for Nextdoor must provide their address. Once it is verified, they are linked to other users in their neighborhood. A Nextdoor user cannot access neighborhood sites other than their own. More than 100 Sacramento communities are represented on Nextdoor, Somers said.
The site is used for a variety of reasons -- to advertise garage sales, for example, or spread news about a lost or found dog. Neighbors also can alert each other to suspicious activity, and police can spread important information or crime prevention tips to specific neighborhoods.
Police do not monitor Nextdoor conversations on a daily basis. However, a user can submit information to police through the Nextdoor website.
During their effort to get residents signed on to Nextdoor -- a campaign that begin over the summer -- police also helped 70 new communities organize neighborhood watch groups, Somers said, bringing the total citywide to nearly 300.
That kind of community engagement is critical, Somers said.
"We have to have the community's buy-in," he said. "We have to have their eyes and ears."
Isaac Gonzalez, president of the Tahoe Park Neighborhood Association, said he has used the site to alert his neighbors to police activity in the area and to mobilize community support. Recently, he said he used the site to advertise a canned food drive and organize efforts to clean up graffiti left behind by a vandal.
When something happens in Tahoe Park, checking Nextdoor has become the "knee-jerk reaction," he said.
"It is the go-to tool for our neighborhood," Gonzalez said.
To find out if your neighborhood is on Nextdoor, or to sign up for the site, go to www.nextdoor.com.
(c) 2013 The Sacramento Bee (Sacramento, Calif.)