Detective Jeffry Poole of the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) has received over 10,000 crime alerts from the Neighbors platform, owned by Amazon’s Ring, according to data obtained by the Markup. Neighbors is a social media platform that encourages users, including Ring doorbell camera owners, to share information about potential crimes in their neighborhoods. The LAPD is one of more than 2,600 police departments in the US that have partnerships with Amazon’s Ring network.
The collaboration between the LAPD and Ring is part of the department’s efforts to adopt new technologies and gather data. However, the influx of email alerts from Neighbors has raised concerns about the effectiveness of these practices and the invasion of consumer privacy. Many of the alerts received by Detective Poole and other officers described non-criminal behavior deemed suspicious by users, such as checking cars or ringing doorbells.
Experts worry that this focus on quality-of-life issues and property theft may divert attention from more serious crimes. Albert Fox Cahn, the founder of the Surveillance Technology Oversight Project, believes that treating officers like Reddit moderators is not an efficient use of their time and does not effectively engage with the community.
Ring did not respond to specific questions about Neighbors but highlighted positive examples of communities working with public safety agencies. The company stated that both users and public safety agencies have control over the type of posts they receive via email alerts.
Detective Poole and other LAPD officers identified as Neighbors users did not respond to interview requests. Sociologist Sarah Brayne, who has studied the use of surveillance technology in policing, found that many civilian employees and officers rely on platforms like Neighbors for crime monitoring.
The LAPD’s collaboration with Ring’s Neighbors platform raises questions about the impact of these technologies on policing outcomes and the allocation of police resources.