Friday, 03 May 2024 10:53

Akron Expands Free RING Doorbell Cam Program

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All Akron residents can now apply to receive a free Amazon RING doorbell security camera, as part of the city's ongoing effort to increase neighborhood security.

What started as a pilot program in three of the city's ten wards last year, has now expanded outside of just wards 3, 4, ad 5.

City officials are using federal American Rescue Plan (ARPA) funds to buy the cameras, and have allotted 300 per ward. This is in addition to the 400 originally given out to residents in four particularly high crime areas last year.

Now, in order to fight crime, the free cameras come with some strings attached. When residents apply to receive one, they have to agree to terms and conditions, that include being willing to help police who may need to access some of the video footage captured by the cameras.

Keep in mind when you listen to our interview with Akron City Council President, Margo Sommerville, that she says providing video footage for police is "entirely voluntary", but that is not exactly what the terms and conditions that are posted on the Akron City Council website indicate.

They include:

  • Applicant will timely create a RING account and will use his/her/their best efforts to notify the City and/or provide it with access to footage for law enforcement review suspected or actual criminal activity that does, or could,
    rise to the level of a felony.
  • Applicant shall not in any way obstruct or object to the City’s request to review RING footage so long as the Akron Police Department reasonably believes it is necessary to the investigation of an actual or potential felony crimes.

These conditions have not changed since the program began last year.

However, the way that police can interact with citizens via the Neighbors app, that is used in conjunction with the RING cameras, has changed.

Police used to be able to contact citizens in a selected area directly through the Neighbors app, and ask for them to send links to video from their cameras. That is no longer possible, though, because Amazon has disabled that feature, and now insists that police come to them with a warrant, or proof of exigent circumstances, if they want to access video that citizens don't supply to them voluntarily.

But, while police cannot reach out to people for video through the app; they can still ask them for it directly, without going through the app.

Akron Police Captain, Michael Miller explains, "The changes prevent us from sending a geo-notification to area residents, but they can still provide video links if they want. For example, if we are searching/canvassing an area and believe a crime occurred in a particular location, the homeowner can still send the police department a video link of any footage they captured. The goal all along was to enhance public safety and position us to solve crimes."

With all that in mind, listen now, to my recent conversation with Akron City Council President, Margo Sommerville:

 

MARGO SOMMERVILLE (2)

Akron City Council President, Margo Sommerville

Read 3117 times Last modified on Friday, 03 May 2024 11:33