[ What's missing from this site? A few things. A map might be nice to show where things are happening, but what would really be useful in my mind is the result of map analysis - which is what I thought this was going to be when I saw the headline - like the City of San Diego has (and which has a very similar name - Neighborhood eWatch - but has been available for years). For more info on the San Diego version go here: http://apps.sandiego.gov/ewatch/index.jsp ) What the San Diego version does is take any address within the city that you provide, geocode it, buffer the result and overlay that on the types of crimes you select - and emails you a report each day so you can see how nice or rotten the neighborhood is.
I do have to say that, after reading a few of the blog postings, it looks like some El Cajon Police Officers are regulars on the blog and are returning posts and doing something about what the citizens are posting about - so that is fantastic! ]
Web site helps police,neighbors stay informed
August 9, 2008
EL CAJON: Neighborhood Watch is going digital in El Cajon, where police have launched an interactive Web page to encourage residents to blog and share community concerns with each other and police.
The Web page, elcajonneighbors.org, debuted in May and has already sparked conversation among residents and proved a resource for police officers, some of whom check the site regularly for tips.
“It's another tool for us to use to interact with the community,” said El Cajon police Officer Dan Hansen, a crime prevention specialist who came up with the idea for the site.
At El Cajon Neighbors, people can sign up for e-mail alerts, find out who their school resource officers are and learn about Neighborhood Watch and other crime-fighting programs. The centerpiece is the Neighborhood Blog, where people can post information about community nuisances and potential crimes, such as problems with homeless encampments, speeding on residential streets and barking dogs.
“There is a lot of information out there, a lot of information exchanged (on the Internet) and really, we should be capitalizing on that,” said El Cajon police Lt. Jeff Davis.
The department has even started its own internal blog where patrol officers can communicate with each other about issues on their beats. Officers who work the day shift, for example, rarely see the officers on the night shift.
“It's easier than leaving written notes,” Davis said, “and it's in real time.”
The Web site is part of a larger initiative to reach out to residents and business owners, some of whom might be reluctant to call police about problems that don't rise to the level of a dangerous crime.
“As long as they're not demeaning or insulting to anybody, they can blog about anything in the neighborhood,” Hansen said. “The thing that surprises me the most is how many people have taken to it.”
El Cajon Neighbors has logged more than 28,000 hits since its inception, said Hansen, who plans to add short crime prevention videos to the site. He is trying to spread the word about the site through residents who are working with police to re-energize Neighborhood Watch.