DeKalb Police partners with 'Ring' to view surveillance

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DeKalb County Police will partner with the surveillance company "Ring" to view residents' videos with direct viewing access, a move causing debate among residents. 

The DeKalb County Board of Commissioners has voted to approve a proposal that would have  police and detectives be allowed by the surveillance company to view all videos residents post online to the app "Neighbors," created by Ring for users in their geographic area. 

The proposal went before the board Tuesday morning, where it passed. The county will also get 70 Ring cameras that officials will be distributing to selected residents around the area.

The company "Ring" provides surveillance via an electronic doorbell, and alerts residents in their home or remotely if someone is at the door. Many Metro agencies have shared Ring surveillance of suspects targeting homes.

"The detective can only download the video from the company if he reasonably believes its evidence in a criminal or administrative investigation," said Chief James Conroy in a January 3 video from the Employee Relations and Public Safety committee meeting. The chief said police can also post alerts requesting video from neighbors if they believe a crime happened in a geographic area. 

"I see the benefit. But I also understand the unintended consequences... that can affect our children, our grandchildren," said Commissioner Mereda Davis Johnson, concerned neighbors could profile homeowners' relatives who are simply visiting and unnecessarily alert police. 

County officials said pertinent videos will make up a part, but not all of the evidence pertaining to a case. 

The company Ring tells FOX 5 in a statement, it reviews, flags and removes false alerts from its "Neighbors" app. 

The county attorney also said the new protocol would not violate residents' privacy, as Ring users can choose whether or not to upload their videos online. 

"You don't want government or all the city officials to have all this information... but at the same time, it keeps them safe," said DeKalb resident and surveillance owner Dharma Diaz-Azzui, who is conflicted on the issue but supports the proposal. 

"If the homeowner wants to police their area and their house and they want to post [the video], they're sort of consenting to give up their privacy there," said homeowner Kiley McDaniel.