DENVER -- For years, the Denver Police Department has used social media sites Nextdoor and Facebook to share information with the community, but that policy could soon change.
DPD District 3 announced it was leaving Facebook and Nextdoor last week, directing people to the city's site, PocketGov, for the information that used to be posted on those sites.
"We will be moving to DPD’s Virtual Neighborhood – a feature of Denver’s PocketGov. By using DPD’s Virtual Neighborhood, citizens will be able to connect with an officer and get news that matters to them and their family! You can sign up today by visiting pocketgov.org/police," the post read.
That was a big surprise for Sharon Thorson, a former HOA president in Southeast Denver. Every morning, she reads the Nextdoor updates for her Southeast Denver neighborhood, from crime alerts and community tips.
"I love finding out what's going on at the neighborhoods close to me," said Thorson. "The good and the bad."
Thorson said feedback has definitely not been good about DPD District Three's decision to leave Nextdoor and Facebook; the replies are almost all negative.
"Sounds like a decision made by someone who has no idea how things actually work," one neighbor wrote.
Nearly 200 neighborhood groups use Nextdoor in the Denver area, according to the social media company.
"People are upset about having something that work so well dumped," said Thorson.
District 3 Commander Magen Dodge said Nextdoor had limitations for officers trying to monitor and manage information.
"It's a social site, and we're moving to ours (PocketGov) because it's more of a preventative and information gathering and information getting out to our citizens in a more transparent way," said Dodge, who cited concerns about people assuming police could see what they posted on Nextdoor. "What it came down to was a lot of community meetings where we would get information from community saying, 'How come you guys didn't respond to this?', and we don't have access as an administration right."
Dodge said DPD officers could only see conversations on Nextdoor that they posted to, and that only people living in that neighborhood could see their posts.
"Next-door has a fantastic place for communities, strong neighborhoods and strong relationships build safe communities," said Dodge. "However, what we’re trying to accomplish is more of a transparent dialog where you can see all the different neighborhoods that affect you versus just where you live."
Still, several neighbors questioned why Denver Police couldn't continue its posts on Nextdoor as well as PocketGov.
"Still don't see why DPD can't do both. I will miss DPD's involvement on Nextdoor," wrote one neighbor.
Dodge said maintaining a social media presence on multiple sites requires too many resources.
"Because there’s so many of them, if we were to remain active, we would literally have to have full time employees where that’s literally all they did," said Dodge. "I think this is kind of one of those situations where once people see the benefits of it and having all of that good government in one spot, they will see the benefits of doing that."
Denver police will also leave the DPD District Facebook pages for just one DPD page, focusing their efforts on PocketGov for the most part.
Dodge said they will remain on Facebook and Twitter because those sites allow more interaction and transparency than Nextdoor.
Thorson said she is most concerned that DPD did not explain their decision, saying she hasn't looked at PocketGov and doesn't plan to.
"Nextdoor works," she said. "We'll continue using Nextdoor with each other, but we just won't have communication lines with community policing."
Depending on response to the District 3 "pilot program" directing people to PocketGov leaving Nextdoor and Facebook, the entire department will leave starting at the beginning of 2017.