Indianapolis law enforcement and prosecution officials are teaming up for an innovative social media partnership designed to engage residents in prosecuting crime.
Marion County Prosecutor Terry Curry announced Monday that his office, in conjunction with the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department and City of Indianapolis, has begun a partnership with NextDoor, a private social networking website and app for individual neighborhoods. Through the NextDoor partnership, which is the first in the Midwest to involve a prosecutor’s office, Curry said he hopes to increase citizen involvement in community prosecution.
During his initial campaign for prosecutor, Curry said he advocated for creating a stronger approach to citizen-involved community prosecution, and has made good on that campaign promise by using other social media, such as Facebook, to get the word out about the work his office is doing. However, through the NextDoor partnership, Curry said the prosecutor’s office now has an avenue open through which citizens can engage in the process from an initial crime watch report all the way through to a criminal sentencing.
Once residents verify their addresses, they can join the NextDoor network for their specific neighborhood and receive updates on a variety of issues, from yard sales to recommendations to reports of break-ins or shootings. While the prosecutor’s office won’t be able to see the posts residents are making about their specific neighborhoods, residents will be able to see everything Curry’s office shares and engage with the office on NextDoor, a feature Curry said he hopes encourages Marion County residents to become active participants in crime watch efforts.
“Community prosecution is intended to be and does in fact go hand-in-hand with community policing,” Curry said at a Monday news conference. “If a crime is impacting the quality of life in any given neighborhood, we will be able to follow and be able to share with the neighborhood the crime itself, information about that crime, an arrest, a prosecution and hopefully a convicting and sentencing.”
If a community crime case makes it to the sentencing phase, Curry said he hopes NextDoor will help spread the word about developments in such cases so that affected neighbors know when the sentencing hearing is and can go to court to tell the judge how the crime affected their lives. IMPD Chief Brian Roach said Indianapolis police have been using NextDoor since 2015 but are now looking to expand use of the social media app to increase its capabilities for real-time policing.
NextDoor shows about 100,000 users in 685 Marion County neighborhoods.