Police establish online connection with Dover residents

Dover Police Chief Paul Bernat unveils his department’s partnership with Nextdoor, a new online connection with the community, during a press conference Wednesday with NextDoor senior city strategist Joseph Porcellui of Washington, D.C., and Dover resident Michael Tholstrup who started a Nextdoor group for his Mill Creek neighborhood. (Delaware State News photo/Dave Chambers)

Dover Police Chief Paul Bernat unveils his department’s partnership with Nextdoor, a new online connection with the community, during a press conference Wednesday with NextDoor senior city strategist Joseph Porcellui of Washington, D.C., and Dover resident Michael Tholstrup who started a Nextdoor group for his Mill Creek neighborhood. (Delaware State News photo/Dave Chambers)

DOVER — It’s secure, private and focused on nearby neighbors communicating with each other and the police.
Dover Police Department, at a Wednesday morning news conference, announced a partnership with Nextdoor — a social network committed to enhancing information sharing among residents and law enforcement.

The network is free and can be joined by signing up at www.nextdoor.com.

NextDoor senior city straetgist Joseph Porcellui of Washington D.C. gives a demonstration during the press conference.   Residents can use the NextDoor website to stay in touch and discuss topics ranging from crimes in their neighborhood to upcoming yard sales.   Dover PD is the first police department in Delaware to partner with the site.

NextDoor senior city straetgist Joseph Porcellui of Washington D.C. gives a demonstration during the press conference. Residents can use the NextDoor website to stay in touch and discuss topics ranging from crimes in their neighborhood to upcoming yard sales. Dover PD is the first police department in Delaware to partner with the site.

Members will be grouped with those living within a specific vicinity or neighborhood. Access will be limited to only residents living within close boundaries.

Nextdoor representative Joseph Porcelli said the network combines the “power of technology and neighbors to create a safe neighborhood.”

Describing the program as a “virtual neighborhood watch,” Dover police officers plan to use the network to push information to targeted neighborhoods, covering safety updates, emergency notifications, news, services and programs.

Police will not be able to enter the specific network neighborhood group pages, but members can send messages to law enforcement and communicate with each other.

Dover Police Chief Paul Bernat said staffing limitations have lessened manpower available for high priority community policing, so a back-and-forth communication network between citizens and police can help alleviate the gap.

Members also can communicate with each other.

“Nextdoor believes and I believe that when neighbors talk, the community is safer,” he said. “… Neighbors who know each other look out for each other.”

For three months a site involving Mill Creek Greenway neighborhood residents has been communicating through Nextdoor. Michael Tholstrup, a Dover resident for more than 30 years, started the page.

He said it has, so far, 30 members through word of mouth and postcards sent by Nextdoor to local addresses.

Dover resident Michael Tholstrup is the lead and founding member of the Mill Creek Greenway - a NextDoor group for the residents of his neighborhood Mill Creek.

Dover resident Michael Tholstrup is the lead and founding member of the Mill Creek Greenway – a NextDoor group for the residents of his neighborhood Mill Creek.

Mr. Tholstrup said overall community awareness on many issues is enhanced by the online communication availability.

Already, Mr. Tholstrup said when giving an example of Nextdoor’s use, ongoing neighborhood utility work was

explained after a check with the city and post onto the page.

The page is community-centered for the exclusive use of residents with the same concerns, interests and needs.

Information bits posted on pages are password protected and can’t be located by general online searches.

Mr. Tholstrup pointed to a sweater he found in the park, which was presented by a message and photo on the Mill Creek page and returned the next day.

There is no cost to members or the city for partnering with Nextdoor, which is funded by venture capital.

Reach staff writer Craig Anderson at canderson@newszap.com

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