Police handing out free security cameras -- but they come with a catch

DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. — DeKalb County is partnering with home surveillance company Ring to hand out 70 free security cameras to homeowners to cut down on crime -- but they come with a catch.

Police would have access to video from the cameras.

The county unanimously approved the partnership Tuesday.

Channel 2's Sophia Choi was at police headquarters in Tucker, where Ring donated the cameras. Police will determine where they'll go in high-crime areas.

About 50,000 homes and businesses in DeKalb County have the cameras, but the county plans to extend the camera network in the future.


"We'll utilize our crime analysis and determine the areas that would be most beneficial to the county," DeKalb Police Chief James Conroy said.

In Atlanta, private businesses donated a lot of cameras to help deter crime, especially downtown, but that is not the case in DeKalb.

Officers say the new plan allows them to get cameras to residents without being intrusive. Police want residents to upload videos to the Ring Neighbor Portal. Detectives will then use the video to help solve crimes.

"We cannot access the camera, we cannot view things through the camera," Conroy said. "Once they upload it to the portal, then they can view that."

Still, some residents are concerned about their privacy.

"My privacy concerns are that they are going to look through the camera," Pat Mahony said. "They're going to see what I'm doing, see what my habits are."

Conroy says the cameras are safe and help to get criminals off the street.

"My administrative assistant, she has Ring," Conroy said. "She said, 'Hey look at this video. Somebody posted of somebody running through the yard'...Exactly at this time, there was a burglary two doors up. So we were able to determine that was the suspect in the burglary."

In the near future, police hope to partner with other home surveillance companies like Nest and expand this program. The new partnership with Ring will last one year with an option to renew for two more.