Law enforcement agencies partner with home surveillance company

OCEANSIDE, Calif. -- Home surveillance systems are a popular way to fight back against crime.

Several law enforcement agencies around San Diego County are partnering with Ring, the home surveillance company known for its video doorbell.

The Oceanside Police Department teamed up with Ring last November. “Fingerprints are great, DNA is great. But video -- nothing tells the story like video," Sgt. John McKean said.

Ring's users can voluntarily opt into a program through an app called Neighbors and post surveillance video of suspicious activity in their area. Through the program, law enforcement has access to the video and can communicate with the community about criminal activity.

“They’re basically helping us -- and if we want to help them, if there’s a crime, we can choose to do so," said Keara Mangham, a Ring user who lives in Oceanside.

According to McKean, many cases would not get solved without video. “Allowing us to have access to an extra 2,000 to 5,000 cameras in the city is huge for us," he said.

The Chula Vista Police Department joined Ring about a month ago. “We as a police department looked at the program as another extension of the neighborhood watch program," Lt. Dan Peak said.

But the partnerships do raise questions about privacy. For example, to what extent does law enforcement have access to users’ video? “We want to make it perfectly clear that this is not a tool for the police department to spy on anybody. The only images we can see are the same images the public sees," Peak said.

Ring said it is committed to privacy and shared with FOX 5 a statement that read, "Ring customers decide who views their recordings and whether they want to share footage publicly. Privacy and security and control are extremely important to us, and every decision we make as a company centers around these three pillars."

Though the San Diego County Sheriff's Department has teamed up with Ring, the San Diego Police Department told FOX 5 it wanted to wait and see how the program takes hold with other agencies before forming a partnership of its own.

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