Civic News
Crime / Municipal government / Social media

New Castle County Police are fighting crime with these online tools

Sites like Nextdoor “simply allow us to be human and show emotion,” says Cpl. Tracey Duffy.

Cpl. Tracey Duffy, a spokeswoman for the New Castle County Police Department, says social media allows the department to show a different side of policing, by showing emotion. (Courtesy photo)

In late 2016, the New Castle County Police Department began using several new social media tools, in addition to some traditional platforms, to change the face of community policing. Cpl. Tracey Duffy, who handles social media for the department, shared the inside scoop on these new tools.

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Tell us about the new tools.
Crime mapping allows residents to view crime information in their neighborhoods and submit tips without having to dial 9-1-1, while Nextdoor allows us to send direct and targeted communication to residents.
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These targeted messages may contain safety messages or even crime alerts and allows us to choose a specific neighborhood or area.
Why did the department believe using these new programs would be beneficial to the community?
The department wanted to focus on property crimes that negatively impact our residents and our neighborhoods. These programs allow us to use technology as another tool to help combat crime. Every resident in our jurisdiction should have the opportunity to contact their police department. The benefit of these programs allows us to have two-way communication with our residents.
As the person who oversees this project, can you describe how you use them on a daily basis?
Each day is a little different, but it’s as simple as monitoring the traditional media outlets first. I check for anything that may affect our citizens such as road closures and weather conditions. If there is a major traffic accident, I usually post this information to both our Facebook and Twitter accounts first.
My partner and I will then check for any notifications and messages on our social media pages and respond to any questions that were sent overnight.

ncc crime map

A look at the New Castle County PD crime map. (Screenshot)


Since starting to use these programs in late 2016, has it been easy to track results? What specific data do you use to calculate success?
It is easier to track results through Nextdoor. When we started in November 2016, we had 19,935 total members. We have increased our new members by 5,404 for a total of 25,339. The best measure of success is measured by the positive comments/emails and interactions we receive from residents.
One of our biggest success stories from Nextdoor was our first in-house “Coffee with a Cop” event. Community members were invited to the Cpl. Paul J. Sweeney Public Safety Building for coffee and conversation. When we polled the attendees, we learned a large percentage heard about the event via the message sent on Nextdoor.
Besides these new programs, how else does the department incorporate social media into their daily practices?
We are constantly monitoring all of our social media outlets (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Nextdoor and Snapchat) We post safety messages, crime or traffic alerts and our news releases.
When time allows, we will create videos or use the Facebook Live feature to show our viewers a live “Question and Answer” session of an event. While we use these outlets to post information, we are not afraid to use emojis and hashtags to stay current and relevant. Social media allows us to show a different side of policing and our agency. It simply allows us to be human and show emotion.

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