http://paloaltoonline.com/print/story/print/2012/04/06/police-unveil-social-media-campaign-against-crime


Palo Alto Weekly

News - April 6, 2012

Police unveil social-media campaign against crime

Department uses multiple websites to provide alerts, involve residents

by Sue Dremann

The Palo Alto Police Department has launched a social-media campaign aimed at informing the public and fighting a recent crime wave.

A map showing locations of recent residential burglaries that recently was added to the department's website has been augmented with the use of Facebook, Twitter and two sites new to the city: Nixle.com and rBlock.com.

The better informed and engaged residents become, the greater the chances are of catching the criminals, spokesman Lt. Zach Perron said.

Call it Neighborhood Watch for the digital age. The campaign was rolled out on March 28 as part of the department's "Lock It or Lose It!" public-education program.

On the police department's web page at www.cityofpaloalto.org/police, residents can review "Lock It or Lose It!" information and find crime-prevention tips on topics such as "Home Security," "Strangers At The Door" and "Suspicious Activity."

The residential burglary map is updated weekly and currently displays the locations of incidents from March 1 to April 5 at 6 a.m.

"Unfortunately, as the map shows you, the burglars are not targeting one specific area of town," Perron said.

"It's literally all over the place, and the visual representation shows you how difficult it is to combat this problem as cops. There's no one area we can focus on.

"There are people out everywhere, and they're more likely to see the bad guys than we are," he said.

The Facebook page contains links to press releases and will have human-interest stories, crime statistics, videos and more. The department's Twitter name is @PaloAltoPolice.

Nixle is a service that sends text alerts from the police department to a person's mobile device or computer. People can also search for crime and traffic alerts and upcoming events, such as community meetings, by city, county or zip code. More than 5,000 departments nationwide are using Nixle. The city is not charged for using Nixle, Perron said.

The department also has a presence on rBlock, a neighbor-to-neighbor website that functions like Facebook or LinkedIn. The by-invitation-only service allows residents to invite people on their block to join. Alerts and discussion postings allow residents to share information privately with their neighbors. News postings also enable residents to target information to any block in the city.

Palo Alto has experienced a steady increase in residential burglaries from 2010 to 2011, and a troubling spike thus far in 2012, police said at the community meeting. There were 110 reported cases in 2010 and 149 reported cases in 2011. Through March 28, 71 residential burglaries have already been reported, the largest spike since 2007, police said.

In at least one recent burglary, neighbors on either side of the victim's residence were at home when the burglary occurred in daylight. Among the items stolen was a large flat-screen television, police said.

The Lock It or Lose It! campaign urges residents to lock up belongings, doors and windows and to report suspicious behavior in their neighborhoods.

Residents are at the heart of getting a handle on the burglary spike and keeping it under control, Perron said. The public is the department's "eyes and ears," he said. The department also encourages people who are not up to speed on social media to have their children or grandchildren sign up on their behalf and let them know of any important news, he said.

Staff Writer Sue Dremann can be emailed at sdremann@paweekly.com. Staff Writer Chris Kenrick contributed to this report.

Comments

Posted by Not-Ready-For-Prime-Time, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 5, 2012 at 9:49 am

Tried looking at the crime map on the Police Web site:

Web Link

Got the following response--
---
Duplicate headers received from server
The response from the server contained duplicate headers. This problem is generally the result of a misconfigured website or proxy. Only the website or proxy administrator can fix this issue.
Error 349 (net::ERR_RESPONSE_HEADERS_MULTIPLE_CONTENT_DISPOSITION): Multiple Content-Disposition headers received. This is disallowed to protect against HTTP response splitting attacks.
---

In the real world, it's customary to actually test links, and new software, before announcing to the public.


Posted by Resident, a resident of Midtown
on Apr 5, 2012 at 9:53 am

I'm getting the map just fine. Green dots, red dots and all.


Posted by Not-Ready-For-Prime-Time, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 5, 2012 at 9:56 am

Still getting an error response.

Only the site web administrator can explain what is going on.


Posted by Downtown, a resident of Downtown North
on Apr 5, 2012 at 10:48 am

George had a great song for those who are offended by a utility using facebook or public agency reaching out to connect with new media.... or any of the other griping, moaning and *****ing on some of these posts....

Web Link

Map works for me, wahhhhh-wahhhhh, and I know how sweet life can be, wahhhhh-wahhhhh....


Posted by moi, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 5, 2012 at 10:48 am

Opens okay on iPad, however:

According to the Police Department chart, our fair town has been renamed "Palo Atlo".


Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 5, 2012 at 10:58 am

It works fine for me.

I wish PAPD would mention that we don't want vigilantes with guns patrolling our streets - just sensible precautions and neighbors keeping an eye open for unusual unneighborly behavior and reporting it.


Posted by Bill, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 5, 2012 at 11:50 am

While this is a nice first step, it's not even state-of-the-art. For several years now, San Mateo County has been a client of a web-based service that tracks all of the on-going police/fire/EMS activities going on in the county:

Web Link

Palo Alto has been treating its residents/businesses and guests pretty much like potted plants for decades. It's very doubtful that we will see the Palo Alto fire/police/EMS offering this information like San Mateo County does any time soon.


Posted by Gotch, a resident of Midtown
on Apr 5, 2012 at 1:03 pm

I also have the duplicate headers message. Google Chrome is my server. Maybe that helps.


Posted by Chuck, a resident of another community
on Apr 5, 2012 at 1:22 pm

Google Chrome is the culprit. It has problems with PDFs when posted in the format used by the city.


Posted by firedog, a resident of another community
on Apr 5, 2012 at 1:35 pm

Palo Alto Fire incidents have been availible on Web Link for years...


Posted by Not-Ready-For-Prime-Time, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 5, 2012 at 1:37 pm

> Google Chrome is the culprit. It has problems with PDFs when
> posted in the format used by the city

Thanks.

However, I've been using Chrome since the beginning, and this is the first time I've ever seen this problem with all of the .pdf files that the City has posted.

Wonder if anyone in the City's IT department are aware of this problem?


Posted by Bill, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 5, 2012 at 1:45 pm

> Palo Alto Fire incidents have been availible on Web Link for years...

This link brings up San Mateo County cities (use stations selectors).

Are you sure that Palo Alto has been subscribing to this service for years? When did it start subscribing? (East Palo Alto is on this web-site, BTW.)

How can I see Palo Alto fire/ems incidents?

Thanks.


Posted by firedog, a resident of another community
on Apr 5, 2012 at 2:21 pm

For Bill,

On the FireDispatch.com web site there is a dialog box in the upper right hand corner. Click on it and you will see a list of all of the FD's that subscribe and Palo Alto is on the list.. they have been on there since 2005.


Posted by 99, a resident of South of Midtown
on Apr 5, 2012 at 3:20 pm

nice to see 99 % marching down your streets! couldnt keep reality away from sillygone valley!


Posted by musical, a resident of Palo Verde
on Apr 5, 2012 at 3:34 pm

99 hit the wrong thread here. Try again.


Posted by AResident, a resident of Fairmeadow
on Apr 6, 2012 at 2:09 am

I do wish the city used a more standard way to show the map (such as overlays on Google Maps) instead of the incredibly slow, unwieldy PDF file that also doesn't work on Chrome.


Posted by Bill, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 6, 2012 at 10:51 am

> On the FireDispatch.com web site there is a dialog box
> in the upper right hand corner.

Right you are. Thanks for the help.

> they have been on there since 2005.

Hmmm .. a quick check of the Palo Alto Fire Department web site does not make any mention of Palo Alto's fire/EMS dispatches being tracked by FireDispatch.com. Since this is a reasonable way to proving up-to-the-minute information about the Fire Dept's. activities, you'd think the Fire Department would want to tell people about it.. such as hanging a link on the main page of their web site.

So .. they have more-or-less done the right thing .. and then not informed the public about it. Reinforces my point about the City's treating its residents as "potted plants".

What's really needed is a web-site that allows pictures and videos to be shown of the active on-going activities, when such visuals are available, follow-up information posted, and cumulative information about the individual call-outs and year-to-date wrap-ups of department activities made available, and downloadable.

All of this takes money, time and a commitment to transparency that we have not seen in the Palo Alto public safety departments--even though this year we are funding them at/about $60M.

Again .. thanks for the information about FireDispatch.com.