How Amazon’s Ring is becoming Law Enforcement’s New ‘Video Surveillance Network’

The home security and smart home company, Ring Inc., is changing the face of neighborhood policing. Just 4 months ago, it was reported that Amazon’s Ring doorbell has partnered with over 400 police forces across the United States. Originally rejected in the TV series ‘Shark Tank’, Amazon’s acquisition of over $1 billion seems like it could be a wise investment.


How does the Ring doorbell work?


Ring’s doorbell contains motion-sensors, a 180-degree HD camera, and rewindable video recording. It’s perfect for homeowners to talk to delivery drivers when they are out of the house, or to appear that they are in the house when suspicious people ring their doorbells. Some homeowners are even placing the product in different parts of their property to increase coverage. Effectively, Ring is building a vast video surveillance network. For more details, watch the video below:



Why is Law Enforcement Partnering with Ring?


The Nassau County Police Department on Long Island has a specific problem at this time of year: Porch Pirates. This term refers to people who steal parcels from doorsteps, and these cases are usually solved with old-fashioned policing; going door-to-door.


But this Christmas, the department has announced a partnership with Ring that means they can review video footage directly from homeowners without ringing doorbells. After a crime has been committed, notifications can be sent directly via Ring to local residents, making them aware of the crime and asking them if they would like to release their video footage from the relevant timeframe.


“The mission has always been making the neighborhood safer,” said Eric Kuhn, the General Manager of Neighbors, Ring’s crime-focused companion app. “We’ve had a lot of success in terms of deterring crime and solving crimes that would otherwise not be solved as quickly,” he added.


Neighbors acts as a social network for local residents to anonymously post videos and messages about suspicious visitors, missing pets and discuss local crime. Police officers can directly talk to local residents via the app and homeowners are notified when a police department partners with their neighborhood.


Police Success Cases


In the Arizona towns of Mesa, Chandler and Gilbert, local law enforcement have experienced encouraging results with Ring. According to police Commander Ed Upshaw, “We have used it in multiple cases. It is a valuable tool our agency uses…It’s 2019. It’s not the same world you lived in in 1970. The world has changed. You are under constant surveillance.’’


In Upshaw’s south Chandler district, results have included the arrests of: Porch pirates; a stalker; Amazon delivery workers stealing their own packages; and the identification of teenagers from Phoenix opening unlocked cars and stealing their contents.


In Texas, there has already been two widely reported incidents of kidnapping caught by Ring video footage. In June, a domestic violence situation resulted in a woman ringing a neighbour’s doorbell at 9.25pm, before being dragged off back into her partner’s car. Even though the woman apparently did not want to pursue matters with the police, the offender was later charged with third-degree felony kidnapping.


And, in May of this year, an 8 year-old girl was successfully found after a man had grabbed her from her mother’s arms on a residential street. A homeowner accidentally triggered his own Ring doorbell video, which captured the offender’s car and led to the kidnapper’s arrest shortly afterwards.


Whilst there are strong concerns among civil rights groups regarding the rapid growth of Ring’s video network, the results for police departments cannot be underestimated and require further objective analysis.

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