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Community site tries 'virtual policing'

September 16, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
An L.A. neighborhood is trying out a crime-fighting tool, an experiment in "virtual policing."A Los Angeles neighborhood is trying out a new crime-fighting tool. It's an experiment in "virtual policing" that involves the internet, and residents themselves.

Hermon is a bedroom community nestled between South Pasadena and Highland Park in the city of Los Angeles. Its residents are part of an experiment in virtual policing through a grant.

The Web site is Ebusters.org, and it is up and running. It allows residents to report suspicious activity or crimes they've witnessed. You can fill out the online form and it's monitored by the neighborhood council and by police.

"It helps us know what's happening so that we can spot it and also report it, and then take that back to the police and let them know that this is an issue for us," said Ken Kallman, Hermon Community Police Advisory Board.

In this neighborhood, they've noticed a recent spike in car break-ins.

With the help of a grant, criminal justice professor Dr. James Lasley developed the Web site.

"Creating a new policing virtual network, leaves things open for citizens to create, to be empowered, to be partners with the police in reporting crime," said Dr. Lasley.

But will this Web site encourage your neighbors to become snitches, snoops, reporting on anything they don't like? Probably so.

"That will happen, but I think that most citizens will realize those type of entries are bogus and not really true," said Mark Legassie, Arroyo Seco Neighborhood Council. "And if we have entries that are completely false, not true at all, we have the capability to removing and deleting those from the system."

The virtual policing experiment runs for two more months. Police and the neighborhood council will look at how effective the Web site is at realistically reducing crime.

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