EPD turns to Nixle to communicate recent string of crimes
After a recent string of violent incidents including the mugging of former Council-member Ken Bukowski in April and a daytime shooting at the Public Market in May that were panned by the main-stream media, The E’ville Eye exposed the EPD’s lack of transparency and outlined steps for better communication through social media. The public poll below asking “Would expanded social media presence by the EPD make you feel more aware and safer?” validated the desire of residents for this to happen with an overwhelming “Yes” vote.
The E’ville Eye community has continued its campaign to pressure the EPD to communicate better through Social Media and it appears to be working. Besides the EPD’s Facebook Page (132 Likes), they have recently adopted Nixle, a notification system for public agencies (Basically a one-way version of Twitter). Registration to receive alerts to your mobile phone is straight-forward. You can text your zip code to 888777 or sign up on their website. According to the Nixle FAQ page, they are “secure” & “trusted by over 5,000 agencies”. The EPD has issued alerts for this Daytime Burglary at Emery Bay Drive and this shooting on San Pablo & 45th over the past month. Have these been the only crimes committed in Emeryville over this span? Unlikely. If awareness of criminal activity is part of the strategy, than I think Nixle can be effective. But if Prevention and citizen pro-activeness are part of the goals, than this is where Nixle falls short.
Nixle is a good start … but not the complete solution. The problems with Nixle are that it’s only good if effectively promoted & used consistently. The advantages for the EPD are that it is a one-way communication and needs no moderation or additional resources. The disadvantage to residents is that the community can’t supplement, discuss … or disagree with their information. It’s lack of interactive features does not encourage engagement by citizens. To read more about how Nixle operates, read this blog post on Cops 2.0.
Is Nextdoor.com the “next step”
We’ve seen the EPD “dip into the shallow end” of social media but they seem reluctant to completely commit to the idea. If the EPD wants to enlist citizens into actively participating, they must be consistent and sincere. My invitation to them to join Emeryville’s Nextdoor community has sat since April (Even the Oakland PD has connected with the Golden Gate neighborhood through its Nextdoor group). For those unfamiliar with Nextdoor, it is a free social networking website and app that is created by a neighborhood and is only accessible for residents who prove they live in that specific area. It allows neighbors to exchange information, whether it is advice, notifications, recommendations or even to inform residents of crime in the area. Their are even privacy settings that enable the police to post, but not read user comments. Joining Nextdoor can be achieved through referral by a neighbor or registering through their secure process.
To see how neighbors in San Jose used Nextdoor to fight crime, watch this 20/20 segment “The Neighborhood of the Future”:
Please don’t interpret this criticism as dislike of the EPD. I have nothing but the highest regard for the them. They are the class of the East Bay. Professional, Courteous and responsive. I chat with them often and not only do they take the time to listen to you, they come across as sincere. I think they want to do the right thing, but they’re being cautious. Social Media and policing can be tricky and once the “Pandora’s box” has been opened, it can never be closed. In this NPR article, Philadelphia Sergeant Eric Gripp notes “Traditional police work is the way to solve most of these crimes, but if there’s a way out there to make their jobs easier, why not get on board?”. He goes on to note that he can’t imagine not using social media anymore. “It’s here to stay,” he says. “If anything, it’s going to grow.”
Never before has the technology and resources existed to enlist the entire community to contribute to making this city safer. 20,000 eyes combined with the 38 sworn officers, the crooks wouldn’t have a chance. Ultimately, this direction has to come from the top: Chief of Police Ken James. As big of a technology Mecca Emeryville and the rest of the Bay Area is, we are notably behind in using this technology for community policing. I think it’s time for this to change.
Would you like to see the EPD better use Social Media?
Man robbed of jewelry and cellphone after men knock at his Emeryville door
Two men robbed an Emeryville resident of jewelry and a cellphone Friday morning after he ignored their knock at his door and then heard them break through a back window minutes later, police said.
No one was injured.
Police said two men broke into the home on Emery Bay Drive, which is off 53rd Avenue, about 10 a.m. after knocking on the door and a neighbor’s door to see if anyone was home.
After the man chose not to answer the knock, he watched the two men walk over to his neighbor’s door and knock on the door there. He then heard the break-in, ran outside and called police, but the suspects were already gone, police said.
The suspects are described as black men their early 20s and weighing about 180 to 190 pounds. One was 6 feet tall with short dark hair, long dark dreadlocks and wearing a black pullover, black jeans and a camouflage jacket. The other was also wearing a long black pullover and black jeans.
The homeowner’s stolen cellphone was later recovered, police said. Police said the victim of this crime did the right thing by going outside to call police.
Anyone with information about this crime or other suspicious activity should call Emeryville police at 510-596-3700.
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