Ring Says It Helps Cops Fight Crime But The Data Shows It's No Better At This Than Any Other Security Camera

from the and-its-competitors-aren't-dragged-down-by-law-enforcement-baggage dept

The number of law enforcement agencies Ring partners with continues to grow -- up to nearly 900 by the latest count. Ring pitches its devices to homeowners as a better way to keep their homes secure. And maybe it is. But the pitches it makes to law enforcement agencies are something else.

Ring drives this particularly questionable engagement by insinuating people who've received free or cheap cameras will become part of a surveillance network overseen by cops, who will be able to solve tons of crimes and receive tons of footage from compliant recipients without a warrant.

None of this appears to be happening. While homes with Ring cameras are arguably more secure, the same could be said for any consumer camera -- most of which aren't handed to homeowners by law enforcement. A recent report by Cyrus Farivar for NBC News shows there's not much crime being solved by the vast network of Ring cameras and the company's hundreds of law enforcement partners. (via Jeffrey Nonken in the Techdirt chat window)

Thirteen of the 40 jurisdictions reached, including Winter Park, said they had made zero arrests as a result of Ring footage. Thirteen were able to confirm arrests made after reviewing Ring footage, while two offered estimates. The rest, including large cities like Phoenix, Miami, and Kansas City, Missouri, said that they don’t know how many arrests had been made as a result of their relationship with Ring — and therefore could not evaluate its effectiveness — even though they had been working with the company for well over a year.

The extensive agreements with Ring -- ones that allow the company to write press releases and veto law enforcement statements it doesn't like -- apparently don't require any sort of data gathering or reporting that would tie Ring cameras to arrests. The report says none of the 40 departments contacted collect data that might indicate whether or not the increased installation of cameras has reduced crime or resulted in more arrests.

Ring cameras may be everywhere, but their contribution to combating crime is apparently no greater than its competitors. Any other camera company could boast it's contributed just as much as Ring has, all without blurring the line between public and private by aggressively courting law enforcement agencies. The list of criminals taken down by Ring footage reads like a small town paper's police blotter:

Of the arrests that police connected to Ring, most were for low-level non-violent property crimes, according to interviews and police records reviewed by NBC. These arrests detailed the theft of a $13 book, the theft of a Nintendo Switch video game console (and several items, including two coffee mugs, purchased from the Home Shopping Network valued at $175. In Parker County, Texas, two people were arrested for allegedly stealing a dachshund named Rufus Junior, valued at $200.

These are the success stories. And that's from agencies that actually have success stories to relate. Most don't have anything to talk about or are only reporting a very small number of arrests in relation to their cities' overall property crime rate.

But it has opened a dialog of sorts between citizens and law enforcement. Some people view their cameras and the law enforcement portal as a "may I speak to the manager" connection.

Ring makes it so frictionless to share footage with police that some residents submit videos of anything they find displeasing, even when there is no indication that a crime has been committed, Lt. Santos, of Winter Park, said.

“We’ve gotten videos of racoons in the yard, with people saying, ‘Hey, can you deal with these racoons?’” he said. “That’s the type of people we’re dealing with. They’re constantly sending us video clips.”

Ring continues to insist its hundreds of law enforcement partnerships makes citizens safer. But outside of a handful of arrests related to small property crimes, there's nothing in the data that suggests the thousands of cameras and hundreds of partnerships has actually increased public safety.

Filed Under: doorbells, law enforcement, overhype, policy, ring, security
Companies: amazon, ring


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  • identicon
    Marc, 21 Feb 2020 @ 10:08am

    Open doors

    Has anyone considered making FOIA requests to their neighbors about footage of themselves that "may" have been gathered? I would imagine if that started to occur and people are suddenly faced with having to comply with requests and risk "enforcement action" if they don't, word would get out that getting a "Ring" camera installed would "open the door" to all kinds of grief.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      rangda (profile), 21 Feb 2020 @ 10:54am

      Re: Open doors

      I don't think you can FOIA request a private party, those requests would have to be sent to whatever law enforcement agency is receiving the data in question as that is the only government entity that could respond.

      And I'm sure their response would be to sit on the request for a few years then eventually give you a 20 minute video of a blank screen as all the actual video footage is redacted.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 Feb 2020 @ 10:27am

    "veto law enforcement statements it doesn't like"
    This is a bit over the top, no?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Tanner Andrews (profile), 26 Feb 2020 @ 1:41am

      Re: over the top

      > "veto law enforcement statements it doesn't like"
      This is a bit over the top, no?

      It is. For that reason, as well as the problem with delegation, I would not have expected any reasonable city atty to approve that provision of the agreements. None the less, there it is, and so far as I know it has not been litigated.

      (sorry, this "markdown" does not handle nested blockquotes very well. oddly enough, it also botches real quotes. the Techdirt folks should investigate this new "html" technology)

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    ECA (profile), 21 Feb 2020 @ 11:42am

    Iv said to others..

    How do you Prove a person Invaded your home?
    Cameras outside SELDOM show them AFTER entering, IF they entered.
    Even if they do, they probably dont show what was taken.
    If a neighbor is watching your home and has Access, he can be mistaken as a Thief.
    An exterior camera only tells 1 thing..YOU HAVE CAMERA'S.. so how to deal with that as a thief?
    Red/green laser blinds them. Bright lights Blind them. BB/paintball guns Make them worthless. RANGE, because they cant focus on everything at every distance(generally 1 focus point and it wont change 4-16 feet), and 1 camera isnt enough to cover all your property.
    Now a computer controlled 4-10x zoom, with a Plexy cover that can Rotate the plexy(Wiper on the back to clean it) Scanning property isnt to bad if you have at least 2 on 1 side of the house. But the other sides are open.
    Then comes the HOODIE..how to see a persons Face or identifying marks..
    Just install cheap 1080 cameras INSIDE.. easy to hide, easy to trigger, a small pain to install, but NOW they are water proof because they dont get rained on.
    Then get a Small computer that saves the vid and also Networks it to an Email account you have FOR THIS ONLY..

    God this is to easy, I should start my own company.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 Feb 2020 @ 2:13pm

    Ring - Our employees are watching you masturbate right now.

    Some of them have scheduled their workshifts to watch your children undress.

    But it's all for law-enforcement purposes. Pinky-swear!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    JoeCool (profile), 22 Feb 2020 @ 7:56am

    End result

    “We’ve gotten videos of racoons in the yard, with people saying, ‘Hey, can you deal with these racoons?’” he said. “That’s the type of people we’re dealing with. They’re constantly sending us video clips.”

    "Hey, the HOA says my grass is too tall, as you can clearly see in the video. Please come and arrest it."

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 24 Feb 2020 @ 10:55am

    I wouldn't get A RING anything.

    I would look at the EUFY Video Doorbell for example. You can do cloud recording, but better yet, you can do LOCAL storage and have ZERO costs per month. The camera is better and it's reporting to you is much faster. The negative is there's no battery option. So you need a wired setup. If you already have a wired doorbell, then it's a simple install.

    They also have some other things like completely wireless Cameras. Similar to the Arlo cameras. But you can have Local storage on the base station. Once again not having to pay for a cloud service!!! Plus a number of other products from a Smart Floodlight Camera, to smart bulbs to RobocVac.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 24 Feb 2020 @ 12:23pm

    Ring

    The problem with Ring is that they do not believe in diversity when hiring actors. They give all their acting jobs to white guys.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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