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Is Ring reducing crime? Outcomes of police partnerships difficult to measure

Ring doorbell camera
Posted at 5:32 AM, Feb 28, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-28 09:36:31-05

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — More than 800 law enforcement agencies across the country have inked agreements with Ring, the video doorbell company now owned by Amazon.

That includes more than a dozen departments around the metro, who were drawn to Ring's mission to "Make Neighborhoods Safer."

When police departments join the "Neighbors by Ring" app, they can view videos posted by users and request footage from cameras in the area when a crime occurs.

"This was an initiative they started in early 2018 that they had statistically shown was successful and that they wanted to bring to police departments at no cost," KCPD Sgt. Jake Becchina told the 41 Action News Investigators in December.

Yet a recent NBC News investigation shed doubt on the data behind Ring's claims, finding "little concrete evidence" across 40 agencies that crime had decreased as a result of the partnerships.

The 41 Action News Investigators reached out to all 20 partner police departments around the metro to learn if our communities our safer because of Ring.

Missouri

Kansas City

Number of arrests as a result of Ring: The department does not track arrests resulting from Ring footage.

"There are cases all the time where camera footage aids in the investigation, but it would be impossible to say for sure whether the footage was the sole reason for the arrest and charges," Becchina wrote in an email.

Impact on property crime: No thorough analysis has been completed on the impact of the partnership. Crime is too multi-faceted to draw a conclusion from one factor.

Independence

Number of arrests as a result of Ring: The department does not track arrests made as a result of the program.

"We have no way of knowing which arrests were a direct result of the program unless we review each and every arrest report and it was listed as a contributing factor," Officer John Syme said.

Impact on property crime: The department is not comfortable with attributing any measurable decreases in crime directly to the partnership.

Lee's Summit

Number of arrests as a result of Ring: "Only a few arrests directly tied to the use of the Ring portal, but it's still a great tool for us to have and use," Sgt. Chris Depue wrote in an email to 41 Action News.

Impact on property crime: Property crime "is flat or trending slightly upward." There's no way to determine if the partnership has had an effect.

Grandview

Number of arrests as a result of Ring: The Neighbors portal is still new to the department.

"We did use the portal to request video in a case. However, the video we received did not have any evidential or investigative value," Sgt. Gabriel Gilbert said.

Impact on property crime: N/A

Raytown

Number of arrests as a result of Ring: At least one arrest on state burglary charges.

Impact on property crime: Crime rates have remained the same.

Platte County: Waiting for response

Blue Springs: Waiting for response

Kansas

Basehor

Number of arrests as a result of Ring: No arrests, no suspects or vehicles identified

Impact on property crime: Residential property crimes down somewhat in 2019 from 2018, which is "possibly attributable" to the partnership.

Gardner

Number of arrests as a result of Ring: No arrests directly associated with Ring.

Impact on property crime: No reduction in property crimes associated with Ring.

Lenexa

Number of arrests as a result of Ring: The department does not track, and no arrests came to mind.

Impact on property crime: No noticeable change in property crime rates.

Leawood

Number of arrests as a result of Ring: The department does not track this information.

"Our best estimate is that there have been 10 investigations which were impacted by our residents sharing their videos with us," Captain Kirt Yoder said.

Impact on property crime: "These can be affected by so many different factors that we cannot attribute a rise or decline to any one particular initiative," Yoder said.

Shawnee

Number of arrests as a result of Ring: The department does not track this information. At least one arrest was made possible through Ring footage.

Impact on property crime: "Our property crime rates, specifically residential burglaries, auto burglaries and auto thefts, decreased in 2019," Sgt. Craig Herrmann said.

However, he said it would be difficult to attribute the decrease to one particular factor.

Package thefts in Shawnee actually increased in 2019, but more packages were also delivered.

"Another reason people might report these package thefts is now they think perhaps this previously unsolvable crime may now be solvable because video exists," Herrmann said.

Overland Park

Number of arrests as a result of Ring: The department does not track this information.

Impact on property crime: Victims of package theft have handed over Ring video when suspicious activity has happened. Police did not say whether the crimes were resolved from those videos.

Officer John Lacy did say that the department hands out Ring cameras to domestic violence victims and victims of stalking as a public service.

Prairie Village- Waiting for response

Kansas City- Waiting for response

Olathe- Waiting for response

Merriam- Waiting for response

Johnson County Sheriff's Office- Waiting for response

The 41 Action News Investigators received the following statement from Ring:

“Ring’s mission is to make neighborhoods safer. Over the years, we’ve seen residents and local police come together on the Neighbors App to share important updates and engage in community-building conversations. These Neighbors App conversations have also assisted with a range of incidents including efforts to identify a burglary suspect, gather helpful tips to curb package thefts, return missing pets and even helping residents stay connected by sharing valuable safety updates in times of crisis.

Ring believes that when communities work together, safer neighborhoods become a reality. We will continue in support of our mission while maintaining our commitment to user privacy, security and control.”
Ring spokesperson

You can view all of Ring's law enforcement partners on the map below.

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