The Lauderdale County Sheriff's Department said it plans to join a program next week that would allow homeowners to share images from their security cameras with neighbors and law enforcement to solve crimes.
Under the program, homeowners who download the free Neighbors App by Ring can choose to share video even if they do not have a Ring camera, according to Chief Deputy Ward Calhoun.
Once the county's application to participate is complete, those who are already using a Ring system will get a notification, alerting them of the new program and describing how they can sign up, he said.
Law enforcement can request information from users through Ring for a specific case, time range and area and users can choose to share or opt out, according to the Ring website.
“The idea then is for them to review their video,” Calhoun said. “If they see anything that might be helpful, a person walking down the street, a car, anything that might be helpful, they then can submit it and they can do it anonymously…or a person can simply opt out and do nothing.”
Social media already plays a big role in helping investigators solve crimes, Calhoun said.
He believes the video-sharing network could improve efficiency and deter would-be criminals.
“People are going to be more concerned about, I’m going to get caught now and so maybe they won’t be committing as much crime. That would be another great thing that might happen out of this,” Calhoun said.
Some complain the systems turn neighborhoods into places of constant surveillance and create suspicion that falls heavier on minorities, the Associated Press reported.
In a statement on the American Civil Liberties Union website, Senior Policy Analyst Jay Stanley said homeowners “have a right to photograph their property in front of their front door,” but “more pervasive private cameras ... erode privacy.”
“As a citizen, I could stop in the middle of any public road, get off to the side, get a camera and I could take pictures of whatever I want,” Calhoun said. “Now, if I’m zooming in to somebody’s window, where we’re doing some kind of voyeurism or stalking somebody, that’s against the law.”
Last month, Lauderdale County deputies said information from a home security camera helped them track down one of two men suspected of stealing property from a home.
“Our goal is to push everybody in Lauderdale County, city, county ... to join this neighborhood, use this app. You can do it on a computer as well, so that we will have a mechanism to request information and they will have an easy way to submit information to us,” Calhoun said.