South Charlotte

Mint Hill police reaching out to neighbors

Mint Hill police are using informal face-to-face meetings and social-media platform Nextdoor to foster a positive presence in the community.

They are hoping the two efforts will help them better know the residents they serve, and help residents of Mint Hill get to know their neighbors.

Coffee With a Cop, a monthly event, will be 9 a.m. Feb. 3 at Starbucks Coffee in Harris Teeter at 7036 Brighton Park Drive.

The event gives residents a chance to meet officers, ask questions and discuss concerns in a neutral setting.

The Police Department also has joined Nextdoor, a private social-media platform that connects neighborhood residents. Though they can’t see individual conversations or interactions, police can send alerts, announcements and other information to those in the network.

“If neighbors see something or someone suspicious, they can alert their neighbors through Nextdoor after they contact the police. We can alert people to types of crimes we are seeing in their neighborhood and tell them what to look out for,” said Mint Hill Police Officer Carlos Soto.

Nextdoor does not take the place of calling 911 and does not result in an officer being dispatched or a report being filed, officials said; police still must be alerted through proper channels.

Though he doesn’t live in Mint Hill, Soto belongs to the Nextdoor group in his neighborhood and gets updates from the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department, the law enforcement agency that serves the area where he lives.

He said the program can be a virtual neighborhood watch. Instead of having meetings once a month, neighbors can get real-time information and stay up to date on what’s happening near their homes.

In addition to safety information from police, Soto said, neighbors can communicate to give references for contractors and baby sitters, announce yard sales, block parties and other events, and even advertise their search for lost pets.

“It’s a way for neighbors to share news and get to know one another,” Soto said.

To join Nextdoor, visit the website, http://nextdoor.com, access the program through Facebook or download the application on a smartphone.

Soto hopes for wide participation across Mint Hill.

“The more we can educate people and make them aware of the program, the broader the base will be,” Soto said. “This program puts more eyes on the street and helps us to do our job better. The sooner you get on it, the better we can serve you.”

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