Lynchburg police expanding neighborhood watch with help from technology

LYNCHBURG, Va. (WDBJ7) Lynchburg police are seeing an uptick in crime. As those numbers go up, officers are also seeing less participation in neighborhood watch programs.

To address this trend, the PD is enlisting a little help from an app: NextDoor.

“A tool for people to report crimes and get help when they need it,” said Steven Wood, Community Services Coordinator.

The LPD has tweaked the app to act like a modern day neighborhood watch. You sign in using your address, making it Lynchburg specific. Then you have a newsfeed where you can see what your neighbors are talking about. You can private message people, or see what they are talking about on a public platform, much like social media.

On the side bar is a section for Crime and Safety- this is where the neighborhood watch comes in. You can directly message the Lynchburg Police Department with any tips, questions, or information you have. The LPD has just downloaded the entire cop “beat” system into the app so eventually those messages will be filtered out to the police officers covering your specific beat.

“Really simple for them to go ahead and send me a message, they could attach the photo or the video and leave a phone number so I can follow up in person,” said Officer Lee Hughes, who works on the Community Action Team.

LPD’s launch of NextDoor for crime reporting is part of a Neighborhood Watch revamp.

“As our young people are getting into society, they are much more mobile than we've seen any generation,” said Wood.

Neighborhood watch meetings will still take place in person. This is just another tool for people who might not be able to make it out to those meetings. Police want to remind you that if a crime is still active or happening in the moment, calling 911 is still the best course of action. The app is meant to be used if you have additional information after an incident, or if you see something that you would like to be checked out.

“Get out, be proactive you know in your areas- report crimes and you know we'd love to have them a part of the Neighborhood Watch App,” said Sgt. Jeff Rater with the Community Action Team.