The DeKalb County Board of Commissioner voted unanimously to approve a partnership between DeKalb County police and doorbell security company Ring, allowing police to access videos uploaded on to their company's neighbor portal.

DeKalb approves partnership with Ring doorbell security system

DeKalb County police will soon have access to security and crime videos uploaded on a popular doorbell security company’s phone app. 

The DeKalb Board of Commissioners unanimously approved the partnership Tuesday between police and Ring, allowing the department to monitor security videos residents voluntarily upload to the doorbell security system’s neighbor portal. 

The partnership is pending Ring’s approval of added legal language to the agreement, including a clause that absolves the county of fault if someone lodges a complaint about the video use. Also to be added is a disclaimer alerting residents that anything posted on the portal is up for public domain. 

Mereda Davis Johnson, DeKalb County Commissioner
Photo: File

Commissioner Mereda Davis Johnson, chair of the Commission’s public safety committee, was initially concerned about the “unintended consequences” that could result from posts alleging crimes in circumstances where there isn’t one. Johnson echoed those same sentiments Tuesday, but voted for the partnership, likening it to an “electronic neighborhood watch.”

“We’re in a place where police can’t be everywhere all the time and live in a world with electronics, video and the internet,” she said. “So, we have to move with the times.” 

Johnson previously told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution she was concerned about the racial profiling of young black men who may be in town visiting relatives and aren’t known by their relatives’ neighbors.

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: DeKalb police, Ring may share video in new crime reduction effort

Incidents of “existing while black” have made headlines following several high-profile reports in which African-Americans had been accosted or had the police called on them for merely sitting in a coffee shop, barbecuing in a park or taking a nap on a college dormitory couch.

DeKalb County Police Chief James Conroy said the department has a big picture approach to crime. 

“We look at the holistic approach of everything...and this is a piece of video evidence and an important piece in all of our cases,” he said after the vote. 

According to GBI crime statistics, DeKalb County police investigated 69,162 cases in 2017. That number is down from 2016, which saw 72,242.  

As part of the partnership, the company will give DeKalb police 70 Ring cameras to disperse among county residents and businesses and will donate more based on the number of app downloads that result from the program, according to a draft of the agreement. Conroy’s department will decide where the cameras are given out based on crime trends in certain county areas.

The agreement also prohibits Ring from giving police a customer’s personal information, including videos, without consent of the owner, a subpoena or search warrant. 

Ring spokeswoman Morgan Culbertson said the company is in talks to bring the partnership to other Georgia jurisdictions, but declined to say which ones. So far, the security company has partnered with jurisdictions in Florida, Texas and California. 

In other news:

The shooting happened outside a Red Lobster on Candler Road in DeKalb County.

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