Merrill Police fight crime with social media - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

Merrill Police fight crime with social media

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MERRILL (WAOW) -

Merrill Police are using a new social media tool to fight crime.

Merrill's police chief said it's part of the department's "Crime Prevention Initiative." He said the department has noticed a crime trend in the city, stemming from drugs and he hopes this effort can stop it.

NextDoor.com looks like any other social media website, but Merrill Police now use the site to help protect the community.

"If people see something, they can give us an alert, conversely, if we have a situation we want to let people know about, we can put that on NextDoor.com and it alerts everybody," said Ken Neff, Merrill Police Chief.

The website and mobile app went online this month.

Merrill's police chief said the plan is to use today's technology to open lines of communication and stop crime.

"A good percentage of the crime that we experience or citizens are a victim of, is somehow related to drug use, which is a scary fact for people, but people need to be aware of that," said Neff.

The site allows people in the city to create an account, which must be verified. Neighbors, business owners and police can share information publicly or privately on the site.

"If they see something in their neighborhood that just doesn't look right, they need to let us know about it, because it takes information on our part to start an investigation," said Neff.

This is all part of a bigger "Crime Prevention Initiative" in Merrill. It includes more patrols and a phone line for tips.

Business owners in the area said the effort has already helped alert others of scams and shoplifters.

"There's so many ways to communicate nowadays, the more ways that they're able to communicate something that is important to business owners, the better," said Tim Haight, Merrill Ace Hardware Owner.

Now, officers hope you'll log on and help them crack down on crime.

Merrill's police chief said the site is free to use and anyone with a Merrill city address can register.

The police chief said it's just another way they're trying to connect and fight crime.

For more information on the new social media site: http://www.nextdoor.com.

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