The “New” Neighborhood Watch

Updated: 1/05 9:49 pm | Published: 1/05 6:21 pm

DRAPER, Utah (ABC 4 News) – An entire community that also exists in virtual form on the web may be the next big thing when it comes to fighting crime.

River Park in Draper is as close to a crime-free community as you’ll find. An active neighborhood watch is one reason why.
“A lot of our calls, about 2,000 or so, are from suspicious persons and suspicious vehicle calls,” says Draper Police Crime Prevention Specialist Gary Howell. He’s been helping residents here take their watch group high-tech. And even though the program is in its testing phase, it’s already paying off.
“We’ve actually had already some people who have turned in video segments to us we’ve been able to review and they’ve helped in the investigations,” says Howell. “They may not have solved the investigation but they’ve given us something else to look at in the investigation."
“What we’re adding is some functionality to help people get more involved," says Crime Reports Marketing Director Ryan Lufkin.
At the company’s Sandy headquarters, technicians are beefing up the nation’s largest crime reporting website to act sort of like a Facebook for fighting crime. When the new tools are in place, this website will connect people to each other and to police where everyone shares information.
"If they want to submit an anonymous tip, if they want to get alerts about crimes in their area directly from their law enforcement agency, if they want to report things directly to their law enforcement agencies, they can use this resource," says Lufkin.
When the new capabilities go on-line, police agencies can help citizens organize neighborhood watch groups on the site. Groups can meet on the site. Residents can alert police and police can alert residents about crime in neighborhoods.
"A useable, exciting experience for citizens,” says Crime Reports’ Director of Design Strategy Joshua Sorensen. “It’s one that they can get excited about, one that can use for solving and reducing crime in their own neighborhoods."
The program is still in the research and development phase but soon River Park could become one of the first communities in America to fight crime on-line.

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