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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Miami-Dade County has a new tool to fight crime in its neighborhoods. It’s a social network called Nextdoor and it’s helping residents connect in new ways—to keep their community safe.

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The Miami-Dade Police Department is signing on to to help fight crime and promote safety.

“With this new technology, guess what? Everybody’s going to know what’s happening,” said Carmen Caldwell with Miami-Dade Citizens Crime Watch.

Miami-Dade Police Director J.D. Patterson said they will use the social network to help fight crime.

“We’ve officially adopted next door as a strategy we can utilize to enhance our crime fighting abilities as well as our community policing strategy,” Patterson said.

Nextdoor is a free, private social network where neighbors share information about anything from break-ins, to lost pets, items for sale and community events.

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“That let to online communications. More importantly it led to face-to-face communications, over fence lines on sidewalks in streets, in front yards discussing our unity concerns and we learned who our neighbors were,” said Duane Smith, a user.

Now residents can open up a direct line of communication with police to report crimes and ask for tips. Officers can also reach out to targeted areas to warn about crime patterns and emergencies.

“We have the ability to send an alert out so, for example, of a child missing or an endangered elderly person,” said Major Hector L. Llevat.

More than 200 neighborhoods across Miami-Dade have already signed up and launched Nextdoor. Police believe it’s a powerful tool for them to keep in touch with the community and work together to protect it.

“We believe that working together we’ll accomplish a whole lot more than working apart and this gives us that opportunity,” Patterson said.

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Nextdoor is available online by way of a website and also available as an app on your smartphone. Nextdoor is private; to use it you have to verify your name and address to prove you live in the neighborhood.