doorbell camera (Forgem/

Home security cameras, apps enlisted by law enforcement

To increase neighborhood and city security, police departments have recently started requesting access to home surveillance, whether it’s through smart doorbells or registering home or business surveillance cameras.

Smart doorbells have the potential to heighten neighborhood security, creating private surveillance networks around the country. Some police departments have started offering free or discounted Amazon Ring doorbells to citizens, according to a CNet article. The catch is that in some giveaways, police require residents to turn over footage when requested.

Ring said on June 5 that it does not support programs that require recipients to share footage as a condition for receiving a donated device.

“Ring customers are in control of their videos, when they decide to share them and whether or not they want to purchase a recording plan,” a company statement declared. “Ring has donated devices to Neighbor’s Law Enforcement partners for them to provide to members of their communities.”

However, the relationship between smart doorbells, police and residents can be beneficial. Police can gather more video footage, the company providing the doorbell can charge subscription fees and residents can feel safer knowing they can see their street without leaving home.

The Mountain Brook, Ala., police department is trying to create a digital neighborhood watch through smart doorbells. Mountain Brook Police Chief Ted Cook, said the department is encouraging residents to work with the Amazon Ring Neighbors app, a free download where people can share, view and comment on crime information in their neighborhood, as well as upload video clips from Ring doorbells.

“We don’t have security cameras citywide,” Cook said. “Essentially, this has the ability of creating security camera technology citywide. We’re asking citizens to participate, to purchase it on their own.”

Police in Waterbury, Conn., are asking residents and shop owners to register their business surveillance cameras and home security cameras to solve crimes faster and boost city safety, WTNH News 8 reported.

Waterbury Police Chief Fernando Spagnolo said his department would not monitor the camera systems. The access would be provided only after police contact a camera system's owner for help with an investigation. The record of who has cameras where, he said, would allow for a quick discovery time and  “allow us to search a database when a crime occurs in the city almost instantly,” Spagnolo said.

Yet while a study from Strategy Analytics says the market for smart home security cameras is expected to exceed $9.7 billion by 2023, many people remain wary of sharing their videos because of privacy concerns,. If police departments take advantage of this market to build out their surveillance networks, more restrictions may have to be placed on when the surveillance can be accessed to increase resident support and registration.

This article was first posted to SecurityToday, a sibling site to GCN.

About the Author

Kaitlyn DeHaven is the associate content editor for the Infrastructure Solutions Group at 1105 Media.


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