Are we losing privacy in our own neighborhoods? The increasing popularity of doorbell camera systems and other camera surveillance means more and more cameras are watching us when we leave our street and wherever we go.
Even police departments are using some systems to add eyes to their force.
Felicia Duran is one of many people who likes the convenience of seeing who is at her door without actually opening the door.
“We just felt it was a little more convenient than a standard alarm,” Duran said.
It’s also allowed her to see some strange things.
“So I was able to open the app and look and see in the camera there was a strange man with his goat in my grass,” Duran said.
But ultimately for her and it’s about security.
“I feel that not only the safety of myself and my children, but my neighbors and my neighborhood kind of out ways the privacy issue,” Duran said.
Her nest system is one of many options available to individuals, homeowner associations, and even police departments.
“Everywhere you look there is a camera, there is video of everything all the time forever,” Frisco Police Department Community Services Officer Radd Rotello said.
Rotello was instrumental in getting his department partnered with doorbell camera firm Ring.
“It’s really given us an opportunity to reach out to the public,” Rotello said. “Let’s them know what’s going on. Keeps us informed on what’s going on in neighborhoods that may have otherwise been reported. And it’s an easier way for our detectives to get ahold of some video with permission of the ring owner.”
Through the partnership Ring users, or anyone with a surveillance system, can upload their video that police can access.
But it’s only video users give to the department. Police do not have direct access to homeowner’s cameras.
Privacy was something the police department wanted to ensure.
“Of course I was concerned with the legality of that and is everybody’s privacy going to stay private,” Rotello said. “Everybody has their rights and we wanted to make sure any partnership we had didn’t violate anything and was just beneficial only.”
But should there be concerns over losing your privacy?
“I don’t know about concerned, but you should be aware,” Former Police Chief and policing consultant Andy Harvey said. “Everywhere we are just assume you are being taped.”
With 23-years of experience Harvey has seen the changes in surveillance technology.
He sees the advantages for police.
“The side of course for police it’s a great crime fighting tool,” Harvey said. “Whenever you have more eyes and video surveillance it’s a great tool for us. Let’s be very real about that.”
But he also says police have a responsibility to the public.
“It’s a great resource as long as we don’t use it incorrectly or abuse it,” Harvey said. Because if you start doing that it’s going to have a counter effect. Here we are trying to build trust and if we start doing that it’s going to effect that.”
Trust is already a concern even for people like Duran who have these systems.
“I’m not comfortable with constantly being watched because I feel like there’s no privacy you know,” Duran said.
But that’s a small price she’s willing to pay or rather sacrifice when it comes to what’s most important between security versus privacy.
“Definitely the security I feel it outweighs the privacy by a ton,” Duran said.
Ring has partnered with over 400 departments across the country.
For a map that shows what police agencies in your area partner with Ring click here.