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Is Your Online Neighborhood Group Watchful – or Racist?

Ken Novak, a professor of criminology and criminal justice at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, said the sites offer a pro-and-con tradeoff.

The pro is that neighborhoods get involved in crime reduction. Neighbors keep an eye out for one another and report suspected crimes quickly.

“The fancy term is collective efficacy,” Novak said. “It is the idea that it is not just the job of the police to control and prevent crime; it’s everyone’s responsibility.”

On the other hand, the information that is reported is often unfiltered.

“Typically, the police will respond to suspicious behavior and then they have the ability to kind of define whether it is truly suspicious or just coincidental,” Novak said. “Here, we don’t have that. Here, we have anyone who gets on with the ability to report what they define as suspicious. So you’re going to have inaccuracies.

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