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Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Fort Thomas Police Department Announces Partnership with Ring

The Fort Thomas Police Department is partnering with Ring home security.

by Robin Gee

The Fort Thomas Police Department is partnering with Ring, a home security and smart home service, to allow users to upload security video footage to the department. Citizens can participate for free by downloading the Neighbors by Ring app. While those who are already Ring customers are automatically enrolled in the app, you do not need to be a Ring customer to download and use the Neighbors app.

Neighbors accepts posts (with or without video or photos) on neighborhood-watch-type subjects: suspicious activity, community events, safety concerns and lost pets. Users can customize their feed to see only the topics they select. Users can remain anonymous when posting and sharing their posts and videos.

The Ring company and the Fort Thomas Police Department do not have access to users’ video or information unless the user selects to share the information, according to the department.

Fort Thomas Police noted that, while the Neighbors app will be helpful in sharing safety information with neighbors and the police, the department will not monitor the Neighbors app 24/7. The department urged residents to call 911 or the Campbell County dispatch at 859-292-3622 for emergencies or to file an official report.

In a review of the Neighbors by Ring app, the website, Wirecutter, noted some users expressed concerns over privacy issues. The company materials state neither the police nor Ring can access user information without explicit permission granted by the user. Police can request access to video footage from the user by posting the request in the app or through a special police portal.

The user can then choose to respond to a police request by providing the information and sharing all their video or video from a specific time frame, or they can choose not to respond the request.

The reviewer did discover that, in the case of an ongoing investigation, police would be able to subpoena a camera owner or the company (such as Ring, Nest, Arlo, SimpleSafe) if they see a device at a home that might be of use in the investigation. As with any subpoena, the police would have to prove probable cause that there is video there that would be important to the investigation.

For more on the Ring app, see the Neighbors by Ring website. The review article by Wirecutter, a New York Times company, is “Ring Neighbors Is the Best and Worst Neighborhood Watch App.”

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