Ring has new restrictions on police asking for doorbell camera video

MERRIONETTE PARK, Ill. (CBS) — At-home security cameras now go further than personal safety – they have become a crime-fighting tool, giving police a new view of crimes happening across the area.

But there are now limitations on how law enforcement can access the home security camera videos. Some call it a win for privacy, but officers say the change could impact their cases.

Ring doorbells are easy to find in neighborhoods around Chicago and the suburbs – and in recent years, police departments quickly gained access to the Ring footage. Yet now, Ring has said police departments can no longer use its Neighbors app to request any video.

“I was a little disappointed,” said Merrionette Park police Cmdr. Joe Garrett.

Garrett’s disappointment with the change at Ring will impact his job.

“It’s a great tool, because it helps us start investigating crimes and issues right away,” said Garrett.

The Merrionette Park Police Department is one of dozens of police agencies in Illinois that teamed up Ring to access video from neighbors. But now, there is a slight about-face.

“Ring is a private company,” said Garrett. “It’s probably worried about lawsuits that come through them through civil suits, and having to pay out money.”

Ring adds that police departments can still use the Neighbors app to share helpful updates and community events. It just will not allow departments to request videos directly through the same app.

“It’s a fight for privacy, and it’s part of our culture. I get it. There’s always give and take,” said Garrett. “We’ll learn to adjust to it. If we have to get search warrants, we’ll have to learn to be a little quicker about it.”

While Cmdr. Garrett points out the change may slow down the process, Merrionette Park and other agencies can and will continue to call or knock on doors to get the job done.

“My worry about this is it’s going to slow down our process – and these are voluntary citizens we were talking with their cameras anyway,” Garrett said, “so it concerns me, because it could really lengthen the amount of time before we get some information out –or before we try to apprehend somebody.”

Privacy watchdogs have questioned the relationship between Ring and police departments in recent years. This is a win for them.

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