Hundreds of cities across the U.S. are partnering with an app to help make their residents aware of public safety news in the area.

Nextdoor is a free, private and hyperlocal social network that allows neighbors to discuss anything from finding services to discussing break-ins, according to the app’s website. Cities including Indianapolis; Memphis, Tenn.; Annapolis, Md.; Cocoa, Fla.; and East Lyme, Conn. have partnered with the app in efforts to increase awareness of news around neighborhoods, according to local media.

According to Nextdoor’s site, over 99,000 neighborhoods across the U.S. use Nextdoor, and hundreds of public agencies use the app.

East Lyme’s partnership with Nextdoor is similar to aforementioned cities’ partnerships. It allows local police to communicate with local residents and carry out virtual crime watches, according to The Lymes Patch.

“Having the ability to easily communicate with residents is extremely vital to not only maintaining, but also increasing safety and reducing crime within the East Lyme community," East Lyme Detective Mark Comeau told The Lymes Patch. "With Nextdoor, we can help empower neighbors to keep their communities safe and connected and give them the ability to collaborate on virtual neighborhood watch efforts."

Indianapolis has already seen the fruits of the app’s digital crime watch abilities, according to Indy Star. Local resident Jonathan Whitham caught a “prowler” walking through his backyard via a security camera and was able to alert other residents in his neighborhood to the individual’s actions.

"The more people that see the picture, the more chance you have of someone identifying them," Whitham told Indy Star. "I haven't heard whether or not he was ever captured, but I do know that he hasn't been back, which was, obviously, one of our goals."

The Cocoa, Fla. Police department also plans on using the app to alert residents to active crime scenes and trending activity that might impact their neighborhood, Space Coast Daily reports.

“Our use of social media needs to expand with the available technology. It is unique in its ability to provide direct two-way communication to specific sectors of our community,” Cocoa Police Chief Mike Cantaloupe told Space Coast Daily.

Each neighborhood on Nextdoor has its own website that users establish and manage, according to The Lymes Patch. While public agencies cannot view neighbors’ content, contact info or websites, they can send out crime alerts and other emergency notifications.

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