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Westfield jumps on social media to fight crime

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WESTFIELD (March 4, 2014) – A Central Indiana community is using a new neighborhood alert system to better connect authorities with residents and help fight crime.

Westfield city officials announced on Tuesday that the police department has begun using a free and private social media site called Nextdoor to communicate with thousands of neighbors.

Longtime Westfield resident Aaron Sherrick helped bring the site to the City.

“We’ve actually lived here for about 12 years,” said Sherrick as he walked through the Countryside subdivision. In those years, he has seen the neighborhood grow from a few houses to almost 1,200 homes. Sherrick is one of the block leaders for the subdivision’s HOA and said he knows more than most do about their own neighborhoods.

“It’s not very typical for a neighbor to know all their neighbors,” he said.

An information technology specialist, Sherrick was looking for a quick and easy way to get information out to his growing neighborhood. He said Nextdoor was the answer. The website operates like many social media sites by allowing users to create private groups that can share information with each other. Users can report a broken street lamp, post information about a house up for sale, and now they can even receive alerts from local authorities.

So far, about 24 neighborhoods in Westfield have signed on and the number is expected to grow.

“I really knew that technology and social media were really going to be the tool to communicating to a neighborhood this big.”

The partnership came after a double homicide rocked the small community in December of 2013. Police arrested 20-year-old Christian Haley for the murders of Marylyn Erb and her daughter Kelley. Both were found dead inside their Westfield home. Haley was on the loose for several days.

Sherrick said if the city had already been on the social media site then, it may have been better able to calm the fears of many of its residents. He hopes this new tool will help police and people solve crimes together.