The relationship between police officers and community members in one San Jose neighborhood used to be plagued with distrust, but that's slowly changing thanks to a new communication tactic.
Neighbors and officers are now texting each other thanks to TextMy90.com, a platform created by Stanford graduates that allows residents to anonymously communicate their concerns with police. The simple act is helping lower reports of crime, and it's also creating friendships between law enforcement officials and Hoffman-Via Monte neighbors.
Community members once complained about graffiti, vandalism, domestic violence, and questions about police friendliness.
Folks from my90 stepped in and started going door-to-door, introducing neighbors to their startup, which collects text messages from the public and shares that information with police. Officers review that data and subsequently try to figure out ways to appease residents' concerns.
Officers patrolling the Hoffman-Via Monte neighborhood realized that they had some work to do after a survey filled out by residents found that there was a lack of trust between both parties. Police realized a change was in need.
"Can we improve that particular area?" San Jose Police Cap. Johnson Fong asked. "Can we build trust?"
Police started showing up to neighborhood meetings and even ditched their squad cars to make their presence felt.
"Walking the areas," Jorge Mercado, a neighborhood association board member, said. "Playing basketball and soccer with some of these kids here."
Neighbors who signed up for text messages from police, via the TextMy90.com platform, now receive information about crime prevention practices and neighborhood cleanup efforts.
Crime has not completely disappeared, but neighbors are welcoming the positive changes coming to their community.
The service is available in English and Spanish, according to the company. Folks don't need a smart phone to participate. They simply need to have access to text messaging.