Amazon has struck up deals with local police departments to encourage people to buy its Ring security products in exchange for free Ring video doorbells and access to a special police-focused Ring portal.
According to Motherboard, which saw a copy of the agreement between Amazon-owned Ring and the Lakehead, Florida police department, Ring requires police to advertise its products within their communities. In addition to free Ring tech, police departments get access to a portal that allows them to request Ring-recorded footage directly from community members.
Motherboard obtained details of a memorandum of understanding and emails between Ring and the Lakeland, Florida police department. The agreement states that police should “Engage the Lakeland community with outreach efforts on the platform to encourage adoption of the platform/app.”
Police are supposed to encourage their communities to download the Neighbors app, which gives users get real-time crime and safety alerts from neighbors and law enforcement. The more residents who download the app, the more credit goes towards the police department in the form of free Ring cameras.
As more people install Ring cameras, there’s more surveillance going on in neighborhoods, creating a wide-network surveillance system the police could use if ever needed.
The agreement gives local police access to Ring’s “Law Enforcement Neighborhood Portal” which is an interactive map showing all of the Ring doorbells on a given block. According to the report, police can use the portal at their discretion to interact with Ring doorbell owners and informally request footage for an investigation.
A Ring spokesperson told Digital Trends, “Agreements with law enforcement agencies are not secret. Memorandums of Understanding (MOU) often go before public entities such as city councils for consideration, where they are made available to the public prior to signing. Law enforcement partnerships are also made public through announcements in the Neighbors app and press releases.”
Ring also added, “Ring partners with law enforcement agencies to help make neighborhoods safer. Through these partnerships, we are opening up the lines of communication between community members and local law enforcement and providing Neighbors app users with important crime and safety information directly from the official source.”
This partnership isn’t the first time Amazon has teamed up with police departments. Earlier this month, Motherboard reported that Amazon provided Albuquerque police with “heat maps” showing the worst areas in a city for package theft. Police used this data for a sting operation to catch package thieves in action.
The partnership with Ring and police departments could be seen as a win-win for both sides. Police get free Ring products and access to a surveillance network, while Ring gets to be dubbed as a “police-approved” smart home product, which could sway customers away from other doorbell cameras on the market.