Nextdoor Comes to Wichita Falls

Wichita Falls residents are joining over 42,000 neighborhoods across the country in an effort to build stronger and safer neighborhoods through a program called Nextdoor.

In the last week, the Wichita Falls Police Department said about 20 neighborhoods have signed up.

Newschannel 6 talked with the WFPD about the program and they believe it will take the existing neighborhood watch program to another level.

The current neighborhood watch has been a staple in local community's for nearly 60 years and with advances in online technology residents now have a new and improved way to communicate and keep their neighborhoods safe.

"You go on there and you have an administrator and they figure out the boundaries for what they want in their neighborhood watch and they invite people through email," said Brandie Banda, Public Information Officer for the WFPD. "It creates a secure area where you can communicate with your neighbors."

The Nextdoor program was created by a group of people in San Francisco, California who were passionate about building stronger and safer neighborhoods. So they took the traditional idea of neighborhood watch and put it online.

This form of neighborhood watch is like no other. Officer Banda said it goes beyond reporting suspicious activity. Members of the groups can communicate on numerous topics such as tracking down a babysitter, reporting a lost pet, trading or selling items or services and so much more.

Officer Banda believes this program could strengthen the relationship between law enforcement and the local community.

"Anytime someone signs up for a next door in the city limits, it automatically comes to us and we can send things to them," said Banda. "If something is going on in a certain neighborhood and we're seeing crime go up or something, we can send them notifications to let them know that or they can respond to us about it."

Many residents in Wichita Falls are already a part of a neighborhood watch program, but police believe this private and secure way for residents to communicate with one another could only help in the fight against crime.

Officer Banda said anytime you get neighbors talking and watching out for one another. You will likely see a reduction in crime. She said it's because people will start reporting when they notice suspicious things such as strange cars or unfamiliar people walking around.

The WFPD said they will be pushing for residents in neighborhoods to sign up as they get closer to its annual night out against crime event. Night Out Against Crime will take place October 7, 6-8 p.m.

, Newschannel 6