Nextdoor has removed the “Forward to Police” feature. The site, which people often use to get help finding a lost pet, is removing the feature as part of their anti-racism work. Obviously, people will still be able to use their phone to call the police if they are in danger or if they want to report a crime.
We have made the decision to remove the Forward to Police feature from Nextdoor. As part of our anti-racism work and our efforts to make Nextdoor a place where all neighbors feel welcome, we have been examining all aspects of our product. After speaking with members and public agency partners, it is clear that the Forward to Police feature does not meet the needs of our members and only a small percentage of law enforcement agencies choose to use the tool.
Previous to this change, Nextdoor stated that law enforcement agencies have had an additional feature that they can enable called “Forward to Police”, which allows a neighbor on Nextdoor to forward their safety post or urgent alert to local law enforcement. Nextdoor has now removed that feature.
Bloomberg CityLab reported that Nextdoor’s Forward to Police feature was introduced in 2016. It was added because police officers cannot view private neighborhood groups. The feature offered police departments a way to field neighborhood complaints directly without monitoring every post like a blotter. CityLab reported that “dozens of” police “departments across the country had signed up” for the Forward to Police feature.
The Root posted an article titled: “The Racist Nextdoor”, written by Michael Harriot. It provides plenty of examples of racism on Nextdoor. The article includes information posted on Nextdoor from people who described the racist things their neighbor’s posted on their local Nextdoor.
It is good that Nextdoor has removed their Forward to Police feature. There is plenty of evidence that racist people were using that feature as a means to harass and abuse people who aren’t white (including children). Allowing racist people to forward their complaints to police departments through Nextdoor is dangerous for the person that is being reported.
The removal of the feature means those who want to contact their local police department will have to do it themselves, by phone, where they may be asked for their names. Perhaps removing people’s ability to write racist things on Nextdoor anonymously,and then get the police involved through Nextdoor, will make neighborhoods safer.