Dunwoody police Officer Tim Fecht joined his online neighborhood community Nextdoor nearly two years ago. His job as the community outreach coordinator for Dunwoody Police kept him sensitive to his neighborhood’s needs.

Now the city’s police department has its own access to communicate with Dunwoody neighborhoods using the free service.

“I signed up personally about two years ago, as an officer, using my home address,” Fecht said. “I didn’t realize there was a law enforcement aspect to it. I believe that was developed later.”

Nextdoor is a private social network set up to operate neighborhood by neighborhood. On its website, the company claims 43,000 neighborhoods now use the network.

Fecht said he posts on Nextdoor about once a week. He recently used the network to try to locate Dunwoody residents affected by a fraud case in which a waitress is accused of stealing credit card numbers using her smartphone.

Brookhaven police announced their decision to join Nextdoor in late August. Chamblee announced in a Sept. 29 press release its decision to join Nextdoor, noting 16 of its neighborhoods are using the service. Sgt. Ron Momon of Sandy Springs said the Sandy Springs Police Department has not yet decided to join.

Brookhaven police got involved with Nextdoor after a resident of the city asked Officer Howard Miller if the police department used the service. Miller contacted Nextdoor officials and filled out paperwork to be added to the forum to post announcements by neighborhood.

By the time Miller and Fecht talked about it, the Nextdoor company had streamlined its application process, Fecht said.

“I did an online application with the company, providing basic information and mapping, and we moved forward pretty quickly,” Fecht said.

Since Dunwoody’s Nextdoor launch on Sept. 17, about 450 Dunwoody residents have signed up, Fecht said. More than 1,500 users in Dunwoody neighborhoods connect via Nextdoor, and Dunwoody hopes to get to 5,000 to 6,000 users by the end of the year, Fecht said.

Fecht, like Miller in Brookhaven, acts as the main point of contact for the forums, where police post updates by neighborhood. All Dunwoody command staff (officers with the rank of sergeant and above) also have access to post in Nextdoor, Fecht

“I think it’s a great tool because it’s an online discussion board for everything from day care to garage sales, and [residents] can see what’s going on in the neighborhood,” Fecht said.

Anyone interested in joining their neighborhood’s Nextdoor website can visit www.nextdoor.com and enter their address.