Lake County sheriff gains potential access to video from residents’ doorbells in new deal with Ring

Camera owners have the option to decline a request by law enforcement to share video with police, and to decline receiving future requests for video by police, Ring says.

SHARE Lake County sheriff gains potential access to video from residents’ doorbells in new deal with Ring
A video doorbell system.

The Lake County sheriff’s office announced on Oct. 31, 2019, that it formed a partnership with Ring to solicit residents for video from their doorbells.

Jessica Hill/Associated Press

Police in the north suburbs of Chicago are about to gain easier access to video from thousands of residents’ video doorbells due to a new partnership with Ring.

The Lake County sheriff’s office announced Thursday that Sheriff John Idleburg authorized an agreement with the Amazon company Ring.

“Anytime we can utilize a new platform to communicate and work with the community on solving crimes, it’s a win for everyone,” Idleburg said in a statement.

The agreement allows the sheriff’s office to solicit users of the popular video doorbell for video to be used as evidence in investigations.

Investigators in the sheriff’s office will now be able to reach out to users through Ring’s companion application Neighbors, where Ring owners are able to view and share video from their doorbells.

Ring says police do not have access to live video from a homeowner’s Ring doorbell, and will not be allowed unapproved access to videos. Ring says police cannot see customers’ identifying information.

Camera owners have the option to decline a request by law enforcement to share video with police, and to decline receiving future requests for video by police, Ring says.

The sheriff’s office said the partnership will aid in investigations by recording the faces and vehicles of suspects involved, the sheriff’s office said in the release. The platform on the Neighbors app will also give the sheriff’s office a space to have a “back-and-forth dialogue” with the community, the release states.

More than 400 police departments across the country have made agreements with Ring to solicit community members video. The Chicago Police Department is in the midst of finalizing a pilot program to create a similar partnership, which would make it the largest department in the county to do so.

Critics of the partnerships between Ring and police departments say the agreements are being made without extensive public debate or consent, and may open the door to intrusive surveillance.

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