LOS ANGELES (CBS) — Police are calling on residents in the western San Fernando Valley to use their laptops to keep tabs on neighborhood crime and to supply tips to police.
Capt. Tom Brascia of the Los Angeles Police Department is in charge of the Topanga patrol area and says the department is focused on improving community relations as well as cutting down on crime by using a free web-based service called “Nixle”.
“For example, the one that I like to use is: we had a robbery suspect, a fairly large individual, that’s committing some street robberies…on a girl’s pink bicycle. Well, our contention is that you know who that person is in your neighborhood. So we want to let you know, so you can tell us who that person is,” told the Police Commission.
Brascia wants to sign up at least 50,000 people in the patrol area, which has about 250,000 residents. About 35,000 people have subscribed so far, he said.
Sgt. Tom Mason, who heads the program, said he recently started sending a “Nixle per day” to alert residents to crimes, however small they might be.
He said he and patrol officers have daily “crime control” meetings and decide which crimes to alert residents to.
“We’ll come in and see if something happened over the weekend, because otherwise people wouldn’t know about it if it didn’t make the news,” he said.
The Topanga patrol area covers the extreme western San Fernando Valley, west of Corbin Avenue.
Property crimes, typically not covered by traditional news outlets, are the biggest problem in the area, Brascia said, and Nixle alerts residents to new types of crimes, such as people stealing third-row seats from sport utility vehicles.
Mason said his officers have gotten a few “quick responses” from citizens since starting the Nixle-per-day program, but he said he hoped the effort would increase cooperation between residents and police and lead to more arrests.
Residents just need to go to Nixle.com, sign up for the service and subscribe to the LAPD feed.
The LAPD’s web page for the Topanga station also has a link.
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