Portsmouth Police Department using neighbor video to solve crimes


PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — We’ve all seen videos of porch pirates coming up to your door, taking something, and running away.

While often frustrating to watch, those videos are proving to be huge tools for local law enforcement agencies.

Local police departments, including the Portsmouth Police Department, are using technology to reduce that crime trend and hopefully one day stop it.

“Any additional tool that we can use or find will help us out,” said Lt. Jeffrey Branch, with the Portsmouth Police Department.

Back in February, Branch reached out to “Ring,” a popular doorbell video camera. In May, they launched a formal partnership between the police department and Ring’s app, which is called “Neighbors.”

“It’s just another opportunity for us to communicate with the citizens, as opposed to going door to door,” said Branch. “They’re actually able now to send us information via the Neighbors app electronically.”

Here’s how it works: people can anonymously upload videos to the app — not just doorbell camera footage — and it will be shared with the police department.

Branch said, “They can post anonymously and we can view it if they would like to share it with us. If they don’t, they don’t have to.”

The police department can also reach out to neighbors, asking if they have any video or information that might be able to help them solve crimes.

“It allows our agency to view and post on the Neighbors app in real time,” said Branch. “It also directly engages the citizens of Portsmouth to act with us here in the police department.”

The technology has already shown that it works.

“We’ve actually used it, some of our detectives, have used the Ring or the Neighbors app to develop leads in their cases,” Branch said.

The app is free to download.

A Ring spokesperson shared this statement:

“Ring’s mission is to make neighborhoods safer. We work towards this mission in a number of ways, including partnering with law enforcement agencies so they can share official, important crime and safety updates and work together with their local community through the Neighbors app. We also work with cities and community groups to offer community members subsidized or discounted Ring devices in an effort to make home security accessible to more people.  Ring has designed these programs in a way that upholds our user standards and keeps residents in control and believes that when communities work together, we create safer neighborhoods.”

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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