The Winter Park Police Department always tells residents to “see something, say something,” but now officers are using technology to take that idea one step further.
Winter Park’s Police Department announced last month that they recently joined the Neighbors app by Ring, which allows residents to post alerts or important updates to neighbors in their community.
Police officers are now plugged in to stay up-to-date on any important happenings in local neighborhoods.
“Once you opt in to it, you’re basically partnering with the police department and your neighbors to help reduce crime in your neighborhood – like the neighborhood watch,” Lt. John Montgomery of the Winter Park Police Department said.
“Us partnering with Ring allows us and you as a user of the Neighbors app to keep up with real-time crime and safety updates. If you see something going on in your neighborhood, obviously we want you to call the police and get us out there, but you could also post to your Ring app and your neighbors can also look at it and get information.”
The app was launched back in May by doorbell-with-a-camera company Ring with the intention of trying to prevent crime. Anyone can download Neighbors onto their phone or Ring camera device outside their home.
One of the main applications of Neighbors for the police department is access to video capabilities. Officers will contact residents if they believe one of their outdoor cameras may have captured footage of a burglar or thief.
“Let’s say you’re a resident and you woke up in the morning and you find out someone broke into your car on your driveway,” Montgomery said. “You report that crime to the police, we show up, and we can send out an alert through Neighbors saying ‘There was a burglary in your neighborhood last night. Are you willing to share your Ring video with us from 1 a.m.to 3 a.m.?’ … We can look to see if anyone went by the house, walked by or drive by in a suspicious vehicle. The camera is just extra eyes. It’s more neighbors looking out for each other.”
Montgomery stressed that the police wouldn’t be trying to pry into the personal lives of residents through the app, and that any access to the video capabilities would only come with direct permission from a resident, he said.
Another use for Neighbors from the perspective of the police is keeping that open line of communication with residents during critical situations, like a suspect on the loose or a recently stolen item, Montgomery said.
“It’s kind of like what we do now with all our other social media,” he said. “If we have an issue in a neighborhood, we can post real-time data on the Neighbors app and they’ll get the information right way.”
Montgomery said he hopes that the department’s use of the app will do one simple thing: make neighborhoods safer.
“It’s no big secret that the more eyes you have out there, the better it is for us,” Montgomery said. “It helps us. Solving crime – unless you absolutely stumble upon it – we rely a lot on the neighbors and witnesses and people along that line. The more eyes and ears we have out there, the easier it is for us to solve crime and get the information we need to to solve the crimes.”
“We like the fact that we work with our community to build trust to make our communities and our neighborhoods safer.”