Amazon's security cam Ring has used Los Angeles police officers as their latest brand ambassadors. Ring provided free products and discount codes in exchange for recommendations.
According to Los Angeles Times, Ring gave 100 Los Angeles police officers free devices, which helped the LAPD department create a new surveillance cameras network. These new devices also made it easier to obtain video footage.
Amazon Ring's LAPD Assistance
The original police officer ambassador program was Pillar, which ended in 2019. According to the spokesperson of Pillar, the practices and programs of Pillar do not reflect that of Ring's as they stopped donating to law enforcement and encouraging police to promote their products years ago.
According to the LA Times, the LAPD refused to reply to a request for comment, but a departmental review found that the 100 officers that received free devices did not violate any LAPD rules.
Amazon bought Ring in 2018 and has tried to establish that its home security cameras can help reduce neighborhood crime.
However, according to NBC News that investigated the program in 2020, a lot of law enforcement agencies can't actually attribute any crimes to being solved due to the assistance of a Ring camera.
The arrests helped by Ring footage were for low-level, nonviolent property crimes and not for high-profile crimes.
Police departments can ask Ring customers to give them access to certain camera footage. A report from the Financial Times found that Ring partnered with more than 2,000 police and fire departments in 2020, reportedly requesting footage for around 22,000 total incidents.
Most of the requests ask users to submit a video voluntarily, but police can obtain footage directly through parent company Amazon with a search warrant or court order.
LAPD Requesting Video Footages
In 2020, during the police brutality protests, the LAPD asked Ring customers to give footage from their camera doorbells, according to the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
The LAPD wrote in one request that during the recent protests, individuals were injured, and properties were damaged, looted, and destroyed. This is the reason why the LAPD sought after the footage in order to help identify the people who were responsible for the damages.
On June 7, Ring made changes to the way that police and other public agencies can request video clips from camera owners in its Neighbors app, according to CNET.
Agencies can no longer send people private requests for clips and can only request clips be sent to them through public posts viewable in the main feed of the Neighbors app.
Instead, a new type of post on the app will allow law enforcement agencies to make "Requests for Assistance," with some investigation details, including the case number, location of the incident, and lead investigator.
The users of the app will then be able to publicly comment or even privately share footage from their Ring video devices, as long as they accept the requests from the police officers.
The Neighbors app is different from the main Ring app and is more akin to local social networks with Nextdoor.
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Written by Sophie Webster