A man carrying a machete and a crowbar walked into the Chapel of the Holy Hill in Sedona, Az., in September and started destroying things. He turned out to be a follower of QAnon, a far-right conspiracy group. His rampage was captured in photos and video by tourists; hours after the incident, he was arrested. How did the cops close in so quickly? Sedona police chief Charles Husted credits the social media platform Nextdoor, CityLab reports. Within 20 minutes of the incident, Husted posted an “urgent alert” with a photo and description of the suspect on Sedona’s Nextdoor account. That post swiftly circulated through the city as neighbors shared it, reposted it on other social media platforms, and sent it to friends. Soon, a shopkeeper who’d been sent the post by her mom realized she’d seen the man in question—and called 911. “It was perfect,” Husted said.
As a Sacramento officer from 2013 to 2019, Husted used the platform to keep the community informed and build trust. When he moved to Sedona last year, he immediately pushed the department to create a Nextdoor account. The new Nextdoor for Public Agencies app, which launched publicly on Wednesday, enables police and fire departments, public schools, and City Hall agencies to post updates, push out alerts geo-targeted to reach specific neighborhoods, and read their messages on the go. “It allows the public agency folks to be in the field, be engaged in an incident, and share info quickly as needed,” said Husted. He calls the new app a “game changer.”