CMPD, Other Local Police Departments Gain Access to Ring Doorbell App

CHARLOTTE, NC – There is a new neighborhood watch in the Charlotte area and across the country. Police departments are getting more and more access to Ring Doorbells.

Ring offers a social media app called “Neighbors.” People can post content and chat with others in their area about crimes or suspicious activities.  Four Hundred police departments in the US have joined the conversation. They can pull videos, request more video from people’s cameras, and chat directly with users.

CMPD, Cornelius, Shelby, Lincolnton, and Mint Hill police departments have a deal with Ring that allows access to the Neighbors app.

“We’re not trying to spy on people and looking into their program with their consent,” said Tim Ledford, the Mint Hill Police Chief, “they must give us consent.”

Ledford says his department has been using the program for six months and have investigated one crime aided by Ring video.

“We could utilize that to prevent crime,” said Ledford, “and if a crime did occur, we’d be able to maybe track down a suspect.”

In an email to WCCB, CMPD said,

“The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department believes in information sharing with the community to help prevent and fight crime. CMPD is open to partnering with any video-sharing residential doorbell camera companies…”

Legal experts have expressed concerns saying the program could threaten civil liberties, potentially invade privacy, and add scrutiny to innocent people.

Jay Stanley, a Senior Political Analyst for the ACLU wrote in a blog post that he is troubled by the partnership between a tech giant and police departments.

“Allowing officers to serve as a de facto sales force for a company selling surveillance devices is a betrayal of police departments’ duty to serve the public first,” wrote Stanley.

Yet, police departments say the devices will only make communities safer, and there hasn’t been much public push back.

“People are liking that,” said Ledford, “they like to be able to know that the police department are being proactive.”