Expanding community outreach is one of the department's goals, explained police spokesperson Nicole Acker, and social media provides an opportunity to build relationships with the public. "With the growing technological trend and improvement in communication services, there is an expectation from the community for us to provide real-time notification/news and keeping them connected and informed," she said in an interview following the social media launch on May 8.
While Facebook and Twitter expand the audience for the department's press releases and other updates, Nixle delivers alerts via email or text messaging to subscribers.
Within the past year the department also started promoting CrimeReports.com, an online crime-tracking website that displays all reported incidents within a given location and timeframe.
The police department outreach follows in the footsteps of another city initiative. Menlo Park promoted Nextdoor — a "free and private social network for neighborhoods" — in April. "We believe a healthier and more engaged city creates stronger communities," said Cherise Brandell, Menlo Park Community Services Director. "Nextdoor will help create a stronger and safer community and build on the strong neighborhood connections people in Menlo Park already have."
Before subscribing to a neighborhood group, Nextdoor members must verify that they live within that neighborhood. Information shared within the group can't be accessed by those outside the neighborhood or found via search engines, Ms. Brandell said in a press release.
Several Nextdoor neighborhood groups already exist in Menlo Park, including: Suburban Park, the Willows, Stanford Hills, Vintage Oaks, Lorelei, Stanford Oaks, North Fair Oaks, Linfield Oaks, University Heights, The Oaks, and Sharon Heights.
Go to Nextdoor.com to learn more.
Menlo Park police social media links:
• Facebook (facebook.com/pages/Menlo-Park-PD)
• Twitter (twitter.com/#!/MenloParkPD
• Nixle (nixle.com)