CLEMSON — The Clemson Police Department has signed onto a program to bring the Neighborhood Watch Program into the 21st century.
CPD Chief Jimmy Dixon, along with two residents of Clemson neighborhoods, announced a working arrangement with Nextdoor.com, a company whose emphasis is providing social platforms and networking to enhance neighborhood watch programs.
Dixon admitted the efficiency of neighborhood watch programs has gone downhill as communities have changed.
“There was a time when neighborhood watch programs worked well but over the years neighbors don’t interact as much as they used to. Society has changed,” Dixon explained on April 22. “We are confident in what Nextdoor provides and after having talked to other agencies who use the service and what it has brought to their departments, we held our own discussions with them and are making it a part of our office.”
Through the program offered by Nextdoor, platforms for neighborhoods are built allowing private messaging, message boards, and messages and interaction with local law enforcement.
The system breaks neighborhoods into small groups so only pertinent information is shared and geared specifically for the recipients, increasing effectiveness of communication between law enforcement, whether a trend in crime of road closings, and residents.
“A police department is only as good as the support it receives from its neighborhoods and residents. Clemson is a little different because we have a transient population with the number of students at the university and a smaller population 12 months at a time,” Dixon said. “Society is now driven by technology and as a chief I struggled with that, just now posting a Facebook page within the last year after swearing I would never do it. But I found technology is important because of the information that can be exchanged, and getting the information from or to our residents will make an impact locally.”
Jerry Chapman, a resident of the Historic Downtown area, was all for the Nextdoor program.
“Whether it’s finding a reputable carpenter, having your house looked after while you’re out of town, or knowing when and what events are going to effect you, they’re all available through this program,” Chapman said. “There are so many ways it makes a positive impact and helps bring the neighborhood together.”
Charlie White, president of the Camelot Homeowners Association, also spoke in favor.
“We’re excited where it’s going to go. It’s a reputable organization and gives residents more information not only about their own neighborhood but also ties the neighborhoods and the police department together,” White said. “We have 126 members from our subdivision and had originally adopted it as a message board.”
Dixon assured future users their identities would not be sold by Nextdoor and access is extremely limited with each member of the CPD and residents being required to prove their identities and also residency, limiting neighborhood access to the specific neighborhood and law enforcement to spread their information to specified groups.
Dixon said visits to neighborhoods and meetings will follow to fully implement the Nextdoor program.
Reach D. C. Moody at 864-855-0355.