To help police solve crimes and give homeowners an added sense of security, an Illinois county will devote $40,000 of its American Rescue Plan funds to purchasing doorbell cameras for the community.
Winnebago County will become the latest district to turn to Amazon’s Ring doorbell cameras to “get out in front of crime, and prevent it … instead of always just following it up,” Public Safety Chairman Burt Gerl told WIFR News. Eventually, the county plans to target areas with higher crime rates, he said.
The county also expects to make use of Ring’s public safety app, Neighbors. Through the app, residents can connect with local law enforcement to share real-time information about suspicious activity.
I have a lot of reactions to this initiative. With my Blandin on Broadband hat on, this is a great way to help keep a community safe for neighborhoods that can afford the hardware and have reliable, sufficient broadband. We learned the power of video with the murder of George Floyd. I know in my neighborhood people post footage of happening on their doorsteps from stolen packages to vandalism. It does help get convictions and packages returned.
But I do have some concerns with privacy and who has access to videos when, why and how. Sounds like I’m not alone…
Law enforcement agencies can see videos posted to the Neighbors app or directly request video from residents in the area of an active investigation. Police must reference a relevant case in the request, each request must specify a limited time frame and area and residents can decide how much information they are willing to share. Authorities are not given direct access to residents’ devices, videos, location or any personally identifiable information.
Still, Amazon’s partnerships with law enforcement agencies, especially in relation to community surveillance, have drawn concerns from some civil liberties advocates.