‘Please report it to us’: Dayton police noticed a change in how people talk about crime, so they posted about it

Area police have taken their campaign to encourage residents to report all crimes to a new area: Social media.

Earlier this month, the Dayton Police Department posted a message on Nextdoor.com asking users to contact police if they are victims of crime. About 10,000 Dayton residents use Nextdoor, which is a free, private social network for neighborhoods.

But some Dayton residents say officers take a long time to show up and don’t do the type of thorough investigation necessary to solve the crime. Their neighbors, they say, can be more helpful.

“From my point of view, it’s a waste of time,” said Ambrosia Ferguson, a 35-year-old Dayton resident. “It seems at this point, communicating with your neighbors works more effectively than communicating with police.”

MORE: How social media helped Kettering police investigate recent crimes

The move to social media is the latest effort in asking that crimes be reported to police. Between 2006 and 2010, more than half of the nation's violent crimes went unreported to police, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics.

Many people who don’t file reports try to “deal with the crime” in another way, by reporting it to other types of officials or handing it privately, the survey data show.

About 20 percent of victims who did not report criminal activities believed the police would not or could not help.

“We ask that if you are a victim of a crime, no matter how minor you think it might be, to please report it to us,” Dayton police posted on Nextdoor.

The post was in response to an increase in crimes being mentioned on social media platforms that Dayton police were unaware of and lacked any record of, said Dayton police Lt. Col. Matt Carper, assistant chief and chief of operations.

Timely and accurate reporting helps police identify crime patterns, which helps the department make decisions about how to efficiently and effectively deploy its resources, Carper said.

“In addition, when citizens report crimes, a crime scene investigator can be called to process the scene and potentially gather evidence,” he said.

MORE: Huber Heights police: Facebook no place to report a crime

Some Nextdoor users in Dayton have posted messages saying they are reluctant to report crimes because of “slow” police response times. Ferguson said she had to call multiple times to get an officer respond when a home she is renovating in the Grafton Hill neighborhood was broken into. She said the officer took hours to arrive and didn’t take fingerprints or thoroughly investigate scene.

A customer’s car was also broken into in front of Ferguson’s business in Old North Dayton, she said. Ferguson said the officer took a long time to respond and left after telling her a crime scene unit would come out. The unit never showed up, she said.

She said she believes neighborhood communication is a better strategy to fight crime. She said neighbors can look out for each other and

But police officials say police work has to be a partnership with citizens. Officials say people can file reports online or can ask to speak to an officer over the phone to make a report.

About the Author