The Westminster Police Department began using Ring security company’s Neighbors App as a new community-focused outreach tool and investigative platform starting in late March.
By April 9, the app was already assisting detectives in solving crimes.
Between 10 a.m. and noon on that day, the burglary of a gun safe took place in Westminster, according to Westminster Police Department Property Crimes Detective Marcela Lopez. Part of the investigation involved walking the neighborhood where the crime occurred to identify homes with Ring cameras, she said.
“Throughout the city, there’s just a multitude of cameras that are mounted,” said Residential Commercial Burglary Detective Ryan Reyes, who manages Ring’s Neighbors platform for the agency.
Part of the Ring platform’s function is the ability for Westminster police officers and detectives to post queries for video footage around areas where a crime — like the April 9 residential burglary — occurred.
Reyes said they are able to specify details of what they are looking for as well, including license plate numbers and suspect information. Law enforcement requests are submitted to Ring through the Neighbors portal. Ring relays those requests to residents, who can then choose whether to participate.
“That’s what we were able to do in this case,” Reyes said.
In response to their query for the burglary, Reyes said the agency received hundreds of videos.
“We were able to identify some vehicles through surveillance footage,” Lopez said.
Though the case is still open, Lopez said they now have two suspects in custody.
“We recovered some of the firearms also,” she said.
While the firearms burglary was the first time the agency used the Ring platform to make arrests, detectives have continued using it for other cases.
“It’s been a really valuable tool,” Reyes said.
Reyes, who is frequently signed in, said he recently used the social media aspect of the platform for crime-solving. The app, which is free for the public to download, allows community members to view, post and upload crime- and safety-themed comments, photos and videos from their cell phones regardless of whether they own a Ring device or not.
Reyes noticed community members posting about theft occurring in the city on a particular day and time of the week. They were discussing it on the platform but had not reported it to police.
“I was able to make a comment and respond to that and ask that they contact me,” he said. “That’s a very unique way that we’ve been able to reach out to the public.”
The agency is well aware of the importance of utilizing video footage in crime-solving. In 2018, the Westminster Police Department launched its first video submission platform, called Command Central.
Residents who voluntarily register their surveillance cameras are stored in the online system for Westminster police officers and detectives to search when a crime takes place nearby. They can then request surveillance footage of these residents to potentially help identify suspects and solve crimes.
Ring’s Neighbors App takes this idea a step further by giving the Westminster Police Department the ability to narrow search areas and make requests with specific details on the platform.
“It’s just another dimension of the technology we have,” said Reyes.
How to Join
Text “westminsterca” to 555888 or click https://download.ring.com/westminster from your smartphone to download the app for free on iOS and Android.
Opt-in to join your neighborhood.
Customize the geographic area you want to receive notifications for (users must verify where they are located and cannot participate in other neighborhoods).
Receive real-time alerts from your neighbors, local law enforcement and the Ring team that inform of crime and safety alerts as they happen.
View local crime and safety posts via a live feed or interactive map.
Share text updates, photos and videos taken on any device, including Ring’s home security devices.
Work with your community to make neighborhoods safer.
— Courtesy of Ring