Lincoln police turn to social media to help prevent crime

Lincoln police are taking to Twitter to help reduce the number of larcenies and burglaries.

In January, LPD began participating in #9PMRoutine, a social media program in which the police department reminds people to lock up their vehicles, doors, windows and shut their garage doors every night. They do this by posting at 9 p.m. on social Twitter and Facebook.

Lincoln police Capt. Martin Fehringer had been looking for a way to reduce the amount of larcenies and burglaries when he came across the program on Twitter.

In 2017, 36 percent of the 921 residential burglaries in Lincoln involved unlocked doors or windows. Of the 2,081 larcenies, 60 percent involved unlocked vehicles.

“A large number of these incidents are from leaving doors unlocked,” Fehringer said. “I wanted to figure out how to solve that.”

Lincoln is one of a few cities in Nebraska to incorporate the #9PMRoutine; Bellevue and Hastings also participate.

The #9PMRoutine was started in Pasco County, Florida, by the sheriff’s department.

“We were dealing with a large trend of unlocked auto burglaries,” said Chase Daniels, assistant executive director. “What we were looking to do was raise awareness to that issue.”

Pasco County started the routine in September 2016. Since then,  unlocked auto burglaries have dropped 33 percent.

Daniels said 9 p.m. was chosen because it fits in with people’s nightly routines.

“We just thought 9 p.m. was the time that people were checking their social media accounts, waiting for the time to go to bed.” he said. “And we wanted to be a part of that conversation at that time.”

Fehringer is hoping Lincoln can have the same results. It is still too early to tell if the routine is beneficial, but Fehringer said people have responded positively.

“Quite a few people are commenting on the posts,” he said. “What surprises me is that people who don’t live in Lincoln are commenting back.”

Lincoln police also view the #9PMRoutine conversation on Twitter as a tool. Those following the department will respond saying they locked up by using #9PMRoutine. This allows for the departments to track where people are locking up and what areas may not be getting reached.

Fehringer noted that although #9PMRoutine hasn’t been adopted in every state, people from all states are responding to it. There is a Twitter account made for the routine that maps out who checks in, and every state is represented to some extent.

The #9PMRoutine is an example of how Lincoln police has increased its use of social media in the last eight months. They want to reach many people, Fehringer said.

“A lot of times we use it to tell that something already happened. This way we are using it as a crime prevention tools,” he said. “We are using social media in a proactive way instead of a reactive way.”


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