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WhatsApp is Whats Up as New Community Policing Tool in New Haven

WhatsApp is Whats Up as New Community Policing Tool in New Haven

Community policing is a proven method of building relationships, increasing communication and keeping neighborhoods safe.

New Haven, one of the first cities to institute the community policing approach, is now taking it to a new level to keep up with the rapidly changing times.

WhatsApp users can join groups, such as neighborhood associations or a crime watch, and send each other unlimited mobile messages, pictures and videos about events or developing situations on their phones.

Between three and four hundred New Haven residents are now part of the Beaver Hills WhatsApp chat group, established by Sgt. John Wolcheski when he became the New Haven Police district manager for the Beaver Hills neighborhood ten months ago.

Wolcheski credits the idea to his predecessor who told him WhatsApp, “gives you an opportunity to see what’s going on in the neighborhood.”

Helps identify thiefs back to top

Last year a neighborhood in the area was hit by a series of break-ins. Wolcheski said communications between members the WhatsApp group helped identify and apprehend the thief.

“This gives residents the ability to have direct access to their neighborhood officer,” he said. “In this case, a resident saw a break-in in progress, called the police department and then went on the chat and started giving updates on the thief’s location.”

Resident Nan Bartow said members of the WhatsApp group assisted police in a crackdown against drug dealing and prostitution in her neighborhood.

“We were able to say real time, this is happening, come out,” Bartow said. “I never had the kind of relationship with the police that we do through the WhatsApp because the district manager watches all the time and he will send somebody out immediately, if needed.”

The full range of services on WhatsApp includes voice calls, one to one video calls; send text messages, images, GIF, videos, documents, user location, audio files, phone contacts and voice notes to other users.