Police Fight Crime Using Amazon’s Ring

Mandee Thomas
Dec 17, 2018 11:12:23 AM

Whether you’re out of town, or simply out at work, you hope that your neighbors have your back—keeping an eye on your home while you’re away. Smart doorbell and security camera company, Ring, is working to harness the power of community to keep your home safe. Myrtle Beach is the latest neighborhood to partner with Ring on a city-wide level, in hopes that police will be able to respond to crime more quickly with the help of verified community response.

ring-neighbors-app-avantguard

Image Credit: Ring Neighbors App

Myrtle Beach Police and Ring

The police department of Myrtle Beach, SC are teaming up with the community through Ring, a global, home security company owned by Amazon. Through the Ring Neighbors App, community members can post info, pictures, or even video footage of suspicious activity. Other people in the area that use the app will receive notifications and help keep an eye out.

Myrtle Beach police are going to be monitoring the app and can even respond to posts directly.

ring-neighbors-app-avantguard(2)Image Credit: Ring Neighbors App

“The concept of having an officer on every corner at all times is impossible, so we partner with our community to have our community be the eyes and ears of law enforcement, “ says Myrtle Beach Assistant Police Chief, Marty Brown.

The Push to Widespread Community Use

The great thing about this is that users don’t have to have a Ring device to utilize the app. They can download it for free, and stay up-to-date on any notifications for their area as well as post tips of their own. The idea behind the app is to create a kind of neighborhood watch organization and foster a “see something, say something” culture.

“Over the past few years, we have learned that when neighbors, the Ring team, and law enforcement all work together, we can create safer communities,” says Jamie Siminoff, founder of Ring. “Neighbors is meant to facilitate real-time communication between these groups while maintaining neighbor privacy first and foremost. By bringing security to every neighbor with the free Neighbors app, communities can stay on top of crime and safety alerts as they happen.”

ring-neighbors-app-avantguard(3)Image Credit: Ring Neighbors App

There are about 50 other cities nationwide that have started working with Ring using its Neighbors App to fight crime locally. And a partnership with Ring and the Los Angeles Police Department was able to reduce burglary rates. This is a very intentional push by Ring to create partnerships with cities: the idea being that if users see law enforcement working with Ring instead of another security service, then they will be more likely to buy Ring products.

A Potential Platform for Racial Profiling

While the idea behind Ring’s Neighbors App is to bring neighborhoods together in an effort to fight against local crime, there is a worry that it could become a platform for racist users to single-out minorities and mark them as a “suspicious person” simply for ringing their doorbell. Nextdoor, a similar neighborhood watch app, has been criticized for users profiling minorities in the past. Nextdoor has worked to address racial profiling issues with updated features including detection of racially charged language.

Siminoff believes that his company is well prepared for these issues because posts will be based on real photos or footage. They also have moderators in place to review flagged posts before they go live.

It’s exciting to see the ways that smart security is working to aid law enforcement efforts. As we continue to see and uptick of smart security devices, it will be interesting to witness how local authorities choose to work with the community to respond to crime and other emergencies.

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