- Amazon surveillance camera company Ring told The Washington Post it has partnered with more than 400 local police departments as part of a plan called the “new neighborhood watch.”
- Ring previously told the DCNF Ring’s policy requires the company not to disclose “specific numbers related to our app users, device owners or community partners.”
- Police departments can only report on Ring’s products with language the company either approves or authors itself.
An Amazon at-home surveillance company reportedly teamed up with more than 400 local police forces across the U.S. in an effort to strengthen public safety.
Ring, which Amazon acquired in 2018, allows its customers to view live footage from their home security cameras on their phones and receive alerts when the doorbell rings or cameras pick up movement.
The surveillance company originally told the Daily Caller News Foundation in an Aug. 2 statement, “Per Ring company policy, we do not disclose specific numbers related to our app users, device owners or community partners,” but it did give the exact number of police partners, as well as a map, to The Washington Post — which Amazon founder Jeff Bezos owns.
“Ring’s mission is to make neighborhoods safer,” Ring told the DCNF in an Aug. 2 statement. “We work toward this mission in a number of ways, including partnering with law enforcement agencies so they can share official, important crime and safety updates and work together with their local community through the Neighbors app.”
The surveillance company is now granting police access to footage from homeowners’ cameras that it says requires consent from users as part of an effort the surveillance company calls the nation’s “new neighborhood watch,” the company told WaPo.
Fresno County, California, Sheriff’s Office public information officer Tony Botti told Government Technology that while he is in favor of the partnership between Neighbors and Frenso police, there is a work-around in regard to consent.
If a community member who could provide vital information or footage to police and refuses to do so, police can contact Amazon, which can then subpoena the footage from the customer.
“If we ask within 60 days of the recording, and as long as it’s been uploaded to the cloud, then Ring can take it out of the cloud and send it to us legally so that we can use it as part of our investigation,” Botti said.
The general manager of Neighbors, an app designed by Ring to let users report criminal activity, told WaPo that Ring’s “mission has always been making the neighborhood safer,” adding that it has had ” lot of success in terms of deterring crime and solving crimes that would otherwise not be solved as quickly.”
The security company is using local law enforcement to promote its products to the public along with the message of making neighborhoods safer. Police offices can only report on Ring’s products with language the company either approves or authors itself, Gizmodo reported on July 30.
The surveillance company gives scripts to police departments that make suggestions about how law enforcement should promote the products. Ring also encourage referrals to friends and families and offers subsidies or discounts to police departments to incentivize people to buy its products, according to Vice’s Motherboard on Aug. 8
After months of dogged reporting met with stonewalling, Ring released the number of police partnerships it has around the country (401!). That it took so long to understand which tax-payer funded PDs were partnering with a private company is pathetic. https://t.co/HBqrJL65Pf
— Ryan Mac (@RMac18) August 28, 2019
Ring told the DCNF on Aug. 2, “We … work with cities and community groups to offer community members subsidized or discounted Ring devices in an effort to make home security accessible to more people.”
For example, the city of Rancho Palos Verdes, California, partnered with Ring to give residents discounts on surveillance products using a $100,000 taxpayer-funded subsidy.
“Cameras have proven to be a useful form of technology in the Sheriff’s crime prevention and crime solving efforts. The City and Sheriff’s Department have negotiated a subsidy with Ring.com to provide RPV residents with a discount on select devices,” according to the city’s Facebook post announcing the move in 2017.
Also: I obtained images from Waynesboro, VA and Wolcott, CT which show police conducting Ring camera “giveaways.” These are a part of traditional police “partnerships” with Ring. Gizmodo reported that the number of Ring-police partnerships is at least 225.https://t.co/n3ZQkdrxbr pic.twitter.com/aqnZn2WZIU
— Caroline Haskins (@carolineha_) August 2, 2019
Rancho Palos Verdes offered a limited number of $50 incentives to residents for a device limit of three products per household and discounts on other accessory devices.
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