Crime in Northern Liberties has been on the decline in recent years. To keep crime trending downward, residents and police alike have taken to a variety of social media outlets.
The Northern Liberties Townwatch is a group that works to foster a strong connection between residents and law enforcement to inform the public about crime in the neighborhood. This Townwatch uses social media as its main vehicle to deliver information to residents.
The “intent is to try to remind the neighborhood that crime does happen and to take steps to prevent it,” said Townwatch Coordinator Katrina Mansfield.
The Townwatch’s homepage features a blog feed chronicling crimes and incidents within Northern Liberties. Visitors can comment on these and other archived posts dating back to October 2010. They can also subscribe to Townwatch’s Google Groups mailing list to receive alerts and updates from the organization or become friends with the NoLibs Townwatch on Facebook.
“These forums also provide a place for neighbors to alert each other when crimes do happen,” Mansfield continued. “Having a presence online puts our information literally in the palm of one’s hands.”
And it seems as though neighbors are listening attentively. According to Axis Philly, total crimes in Northern Liberties decreased by 11 percent between 2007 and 2012. Violent crimes went down 43 percent and property crimes went down 6 percent. Non-residential burglary and motor vehicle theft rates have risen in the area, but Mansfield attributes this to outside factors.
“These crimes of opportunity are rough for the victims, but I am always relieved when no one is physically harmed. I think that burglaries and car break-ins are up everywhere, mostly due to these very hard economic times.”
Mansfield emphasized the relationship between Townwatch and local law enforcement, noting that cooperation between the two remains the driving force behind the continual improvement of Northern Liberties.
Captain Brian Korn, commanding officer of the Philadelphia Police Department’s 6th district, discussed the importance of collaborating with the 26th district to keep Northern Liberties safe, noting that both districts send out weekly crime reports to the neighborhoods within their boundaries.
“We share boundaries with the 26th district so we both report our crimes,” he said. “More than just the dots on the map. Anybody can get the crime maps, which are pretty up to date. But all it does is give you a dot and tell you what the crime is. The weekly reports give you a little idea about what exactly the incident was and if there’s anybody we’re looking for.”
Captain Korn can also be found on Twitter where he is followed by the media, residents of the 6th district and other members of the public safety community. His tweets are not just about criminal activity, however, exemplifying his social media savvy.
“There’s a human side to police work,” he said. “Some of it is fundraisers, community work or charity work. There’s other things that sometimes you just throw out there that are kind of personal, that may be a little bit humorous, and that’s just because people like things that are interesting. If you’re too boring people aren’t going to follow you.”