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Baton Rouge Police talk as they investigate around the scene of a shooting Thursday, Oct. 11, 2018, near S.16th Street and the North Blvd. overpass.

The Baton Rouge Police Department has added the Nextdoor social network to their repertoire of ways to better connect with the communities they patrol. 

Sgt. Don Coppola Jr., a spokesman with the city's law enforcement agency, sent a message to all residents who already use Nextdoor to interact with neighbors, explaining that they will be using the online platform to reach out to residents, either about specific concerns in their neighborhood, or more general issues or safety tips for the whole city. The city of Baton Rouge already uses the social media platform to send out weather alerts or service updates. 

“It’s just a good way to reach out," Coppola said. "Another tool we have to reach out to the community: to reach them, for them to reach us.”

Baton Rouge Police Chief Murphy Paul has stressed community engagement since he took lead of the agency. There are more than 350 neighborhoods with forums on Nextdoor in Baton Rouge, and Coppola said he reached out to them all, and has gotten a positive reaction. He did remind residents to still call 911 during emergencies. 

"The response has just been enormous," Coppola said, noting how he can't keep up with the comments and messages he has gotten in reply. "People are paying attention to it; they welcome us with open arms.”

Email Grace Toohey at gtoohey@theadvocate.com.