The Hilliard Division of Police's active presence on social media now hits a little closer to home for many residents.

The Hilliard Division of Police's active presence on social media now hits a little closer to home for many residents.

The police division this week sent invitations to residents registered on Nextdoor, a private social network that requires users to verify their addresses to join a particular neighborhood group.

"We've always been forward thinking with our social media and strive to stay current," Officer Hyda Slone said Dec. 19, the same day she posted an introduction from Chief Bobby Fisher announcing the division's presence on Nextdoor.

"We are excited to let you know the Hilliard Division of Police is joining Nextdoor," Fisher wrote in the division's initial post. "Our agency understands firsthand how important it is to share information and updates that have direct impact on your neighborhood."

Slone said she would follow up with posts about how Nextdoor members could communicate with the police division through private messages.

"We want to reach our community in ways that are best for our citizens," Slone said.

Nextdoor "is a little more personal way" to reach residences because the social network is established for specific subdivisions and neighborhoods, she said.

Available as a mobile app or a computer application, Nextdoor is designed for residents to network with neighbors in a specific geographic group. Members also can send private messages to each other and see posts from residents in nearby neighborhoods.

Nextdoor often is used for finding a qualified baby sitter or house painter, locating the owner of a lost dog, organizing a block watch or reporting suspicious activity. Hilliard police want to facilitate the latter two.

"I'll be posting (this week) how residents can report to us about any issues or concerns they might have," Slone said.

Deputy Chief Eric Grile said division personnel look forward to using Nextdoor.

"Any time we have a tool that we can use to engage the public, we are 100 percent behind it," he said.

Hilliard police already employ Facebook and Twitter. Nextdoor, Slone said, is just one more tool to communicate with residents and receive tips that sometimes lead to arrests.

"I think it's great Hilliard police are on (Nextdoor). It gives us another way to help out our police," said Gary Black, a Nextdoor user who lives on Dexter Avenue.

According to Kelsey Grady, head of communications for Nextdoor, the Hilliard Division of Police joins more than 1,900 public agencies in the United States using the application to build stronger relationships with residents.

Grady said Nextdoor differs from other social-media tools because it is private and is accessed only by members who have verified their residences.

"Nextdoor (provides) the ability to send targeted, hyper-local (information) to residents in specific neighborhoods," Grady said.

Headquartered in San Francisco, Nextdoor was launched nationwide in October 2011.

The company does not disclose membership numbers but reported 48 neighborhood groups have been launched in Hilliard. That figure represents 87 percent of the city.

The city of Hilliard also plans to join Nextdoor.

Doug Francis, Hilliard's information-technology and communications director, said the city administration would establish its Nextdoor account in January.