LYNCHBURG, Va. – The Hill City has more than 60 active neighborhood watch programs through which people can report suspicious activity, but police say the number of crimes being committed is still going up. Lynchburg police are pushing a new and improved way for residents in the Hill City to report criminal activity.
Becky Gentry, the coordinator of the Westover Neighborhood Watch, is a mother of three and their safety is her first concern.
“Every so often there will be something. Like if somebody's car gets keyed, they'll say, 'Hey did you notice anything fishy about something going on in the neighborhood?” Gentry said of Nextdoor.
In recent months, police have been in certain neighborhoods trying to prevent as much crime as possible.
One way of doing that is by bringing back the neighborhood watch programs.
"The neighborhood watch, the participation is kind of dwindling in a lot of neighborhoods and this is just a good way to bring in a lot of people,” Officer Lee Hughes said.
In an effort to report and fight crime in the 21st century, Lynchburg police are looking to amp up their efforts a bit.
“We wanna switch a lot of it to an app called Nextdoor. It's a website and an app. It's sort of like a social media network but just for neighborhoods and just for people that live nearby with you,” Hughes said.
Police say the Nextdoor app is a good way for residents to share neighborhood events and concerns.
"In general I like the dialogue that it fosters. People can get help from each other and not just from the high-ups,” Gentry said.
Once you sign up for Nextdoor, it will ask you to verify your address. When you're finished, the app is free to download on any smartphone.
"If you want the information and you don't know who your coordinator is, you can just go straight to the app and automatically start getting the information,” Gentry said.
Emergency reporting will still have to be done through 911. The app will mainly be used to report low priority crimes such as illegally parked vehicles and abandoned cars. The reported messages will show up the Lynchburg Police Department's inbox.
"So we're just trying to get it off the ground and see how it works here in Lynchburg,” Hughes said.