Bath Township police partnering with Nextdoor.com to create virtual neighborhood crime watch

BATH TOWNSHIP, Ohio - The Bath Township Police Department is planning a partnership with Nextdoor.com and hopes to launch a virtual neighborhood crime watch for residents this October.

The social media network creates private websites so that people can post about anything happening in their neighborhoods, ranging from upcoming events to lost pets to crimes.

"Their research shows that 20 percent of the conversations that take place in the Nextdoor sites are about crime and safety and that's where we come in," said Chief Mike McNeely.

The township, including 50 subdivisions, were divided up into four zones. Residents who sign into secured sites will receive specific messages about crimes on their streets.

"If we had suspect information, we'd include that, the method of entry, car descriptions," McNeely said.

Neighbors can also respond to the police postings by providing information or tips to the department.

"It'll generate talk among neighbors and hopefully create a safer neighborhood," McNeely said.

He said that the police departments in Piqua and Cincinnati were the first in Ohio to connect with Nextdoor.com. Bath Township will be the first in northeast Ohio.

Resident Wanessa Deshmukh, a married mother with two young girls, plans to to sign up when the program becomes available.

"I think it's a great idea especially families who have young kids. We always worry about letting them play in the yards," Deshmukh said.

Bath Township, with a population around 10,000, has a very low crime rate, averaging just 25 burglaries and 150 thefts per year.

But, Chief McNeely said he's always looking for ways to engage residents with the department.

"We found that neighborhoods that communicate are stronger neighborhoods. They'll have reduced crime," he said.

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