MERIDEN — Police are inviting residents to download the app “Neighbors” as part of a new partnership with Ring, a security doorbell system owned by Amazon.
The partnership is expected to begin Friday, along with the addition of two officers assigned to the Neighborhood Initiative Unit, which will take place next month. The moves are part of an effort to work with the community to protect residents, police said.
“It’s another tool in the belt,” Sgt. Darrin McKay said about the partnership. “We’re being aggressive and taking every avenue to have these tools.”
Police are inviting residents that use the company’s security cameras to download the “Neighbors” phone app. Through the app, police will be able to view, post and respond to crime and safety related information posted there. The app will not be monitored 24/7. Officers can also submit video requests to help with active investigations in certain areas.
McKay said it will be a great way to allow videos to come to the department anonymously. According to information on Ring’s website, it “partners with law enforcement agencies across the United States to foster better communication between local authorities and the communities they serve.”
The ACLU of Connecticut raised some concerns Wednesday about police use of surveillance technologies.
“The increasing use of surveillance technologies by local police across the state and country creates a dangerous environment in which every street – or, in the case of Ring partnerships, every stoop or front porch – is treated like a 24/7 police lineup,” said Melvin Medina, public policy and advocacy director for the ACLU of Connecticut.
“At minimum, the public should have a say, through democratic processes like city council meetings, when police try to acquire new surveillance technology or want to enter into surveillance partnerships, including with for-profit companies like Amazon,” the statement read. “If that public debate and input didn’t happen in Meriden, we would be doubly concerned.”
Michael Cardona, chairman of the Public Safety Committee, said he isn’t aware of a resolution about the partnership coming before the City Council. He said the idea sounds good based on preliminary details he has seen, but noted he hasn’t had a detailed briefing on it.
Cardona said he has a Ring camera at his home and doesn’t see any privacy concerns with it because the camera faces outward from the home.
“I imagine some people would possibly raise some issues,” Cardona said. “I would say if they have questions or concerns to bring them to the police department and if they want to include me on questions I’d be happy to get more information.”
Another community safety measure the department is planning on implementing in March is assigning two additional officers to Neighborhood Initiative Unit. Officer Ryan Holden will be assigned to the city’s North End and City Park area. Officer Michael Ford will be assigned to the Meriden Green and the train station area. Both officers will begin these assignments on March 15, McKay said.
The North End Meriden Association posted on its Facebook page welcoming and congratulating Holden on the new assignment. McKay said the assignment of the officers coupled with the Ring partnership “will allow the members of the Meriden Police Department to work directly with the members of our communit ina common goal; which is to reduce crime and to protect all of the citizens of our city.”