AURORA, Ill. (CBS) — We’ve all seen to many Ring home security videos capturing package thieves and peeping toms – and now, some police departments have a direct line on them.
As CBS 2’s Eric Cox reported, the video doorbell and security camera company is working with police departments across the country, and CBS 2 has learned that Chicago Police want access too – and soon.
Chicago Police said they are exploring the possibility, and a deal could be finalized by mid-September. If CPD does commit, it would be the largest police force to partner with Ring.
A partnership has already been in place for months in Aurora. Cox paid them a visit to see how the process works.
Amit Maharaj has a Ring doorbell surveillance system attached to his Auror home. When the chime sounds for the doorbell with Ring, the camera records.
“I think we’ve had it for about two years, I think,” Maharaj said.
The device connects to an app that allows Maharaj to view live feeds from his device. Maharaj demonstrated it for Cox in a test.
This week, Ring announced it is partnering with more than 400 police departments across the country. The deal grants officers access to homeowners’ camera footage to help solve crimes.
Maharaj said he is skeptical about that idea.
“Might be good, but again, we’ll have to see,” he said.
Florida tops the list of law enforcement agencies on board with 67. Texas comes next with 57, California has 31, and Illinois has 27.
Most are in the Chicagoland area – including Aurora.
Aurora police Media Relations Coordinator Paris Lewbel said he thinks Ring has already been a game-changer for the Aurora Police Department and how it solves crimes.
Lewbel said he realizes the collaboration raises privacy concerns. But he said officers do not have information on which homes have Ring cameras or the ability to see real-time surveillance.
“No live video at all,” he said.
Instead, Lewbel said police log into a site connected to the Ring app to request footage from homeowenrs.
“Our case number, the date and time,” Lewbel said.
After entering a few details about the crime, officers can only pinpoint a particular area up to half a square mile wide. Then, an email goes out to all Ring users within that range, asking for footage that could help solve the case.
“And they have to consent to giving us that information,” Lewbel said.
Ring users can consent or decline – and even opt to be removed from future requests altogether.
But Lewbel is hopeful that homeowners will work with Aurora police.
“As a community, we have to be able to come together to solve crime,” he said.
Aurora police have requested footage from Ring users 13 times since joining the partnership in March.
Lewbel said no charges have come as a result, but he still believes Ring will be a good resource for the APD in the future.