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GRPD hoping to use doorbell videos to solve crimes

Posted at 2:34 PM, Jan 30, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-30 15:38:00-05

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — The Grand Rapids Police Department is rolling out a new program to use Ring doorbell video to investigate crime.

GRPD announced Thursday it is joining the Neighbors app, which they say will allow people to work with police to reduce and solve crime.

“So the idea here is to create another avenue or another platform where neighbors feel comfortable communicating with law enforcement, albeit digitally or through social media, in an effort to solve crime, to provide information, to share videos so we can, hopefully, limit or minimize crime in our society,” GRPD Sgt. John Wittkowski said. “And particularly in the city of Grand Rapids and more specifically to receive investigative tips and video that may be beneficial to any host of crimes, or types of crime.”

People who already have the app received an announcement from Ring letting them know the police department has joined. Police will provide people with crime and safety information in exchange for Ring footage in active investigations.

Wittkowski said taking part in the program will be beneficial in their investigations of porch pirates because there is more information than typically available with those crimes.

Officers can only ask for video recordings within a limited time and area and must reference a relevant case. The app users will then be prompted to decide to share all relevant video, choose what to share or to opt out of future requests.

Ring limits the information police can access to protect privacy. Access to cameras or devices is never granted and person information like names and address aren’t provided unless a person shares video.

“The information that our community members share digitally is an important part of our investigative process,” Grand Rapids Police Chief Eric Payne said in a release. “We look forward to partnering with residents in this way to prevent and solve crimes.”