Neighborhood watch for businesses launched in Independence

INDEPENDENCE, Mo. - It's a new concept just launched in Independence, Mo., with the use of the application "NextDoor."

There are already 33,000 neighborhoods across the country that uses the app. However, Independence is the first to use "NextDoor" to focus on safety near businesses.

If someone notices something suspicious nearby, they can snap a picture or post a warning to neighbors.

The hope is that this will boost public safety and economic development.

V's Restaurant moved to 40 Highway four decades ago. At the time it was prime real estate.

Greg Hunsucker, General Manager at V's Restaurant said, "To see it deteriorate over the 42 years to what it has become is kind of sad and it's been kind of frustrating."

But Hunsucker thinks the new use of the application will create a change to 40 Highway.

The pilot program started by new mayor, Eileen Weir, and the City of Independence includes the 350 businesses along the highway.

"It’s real time, online, neighborhood watch for businesses. Rather than going around door to too saying hey I want you to be aware there's a problem, we can do it instantly," explained Hunsucker.

It's different than other social media sites.

Tom Lesnak, President Independence Economic Development Council said, "NextDoor has a lot of controls in place. You can't self-promote. Restaurants, business, can't say we're having a deal on lunch this week."

Independence had the highest property crime rate in Jackson County in 2012. The hope is this communication will deter people from committing these crimes or catch those who have.

Weir explained, "The perception of crime on 40 Highway is way too high whether it's accurate or not the perception is it's not a safe place and we need to increase the safety to be able to attract that business here."

"We're not going to stop it but we can certainly curtail what happens in our little community," Hunsucker said.

Police will be able to access the app to collect and post information.

The city plans to expand the program to the 4,000 other Independence businesses within 90 days.

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