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Columbia Police hope to use app to communicate with neighborhoods


The Columbia Police Department is looking at using the Neighbors app by Ring to alert communities about crime in their area.

Assistant Chief Jeremiah Hunter says other departments have had success using the app.

The police department would utilize what is called the neighbor portal on the app.

"It allows people in the community to share photos with us, videos with us. It doesn't necessarily have to be from a Ring doorbell. It can be a screenshot from a phone or some other device," Hunter said.

He said people can share the information anonymously.

"It's anonymous to an extent, where they don't have to tell us who they are or where it came from," he said. "Obviously that would help us."

It also gives police the capability to communicate with residents in certain areas.

"The portal, which is the police department piece, is city-wide, and we can send stuff out on it. We can say, 'Hey, there's a rash of burglaries in this neighborhood,' and request if anyone would be willing to share information with us," Hunter said.

He said it would be up to residents whether or not they choose to share information with the department.

Hunter said he thinks using the app would encourage better communication in neighborhoods all over the city, especially since it is free to anyone who has a smartphone.

He said some apartments and complexes have looked at starting to use Ring doorbells to be able to utilize things like the Neighbors app and make their tenants feel safer.

He said the department would not use it to do surveillance and does not have the capability.

The department is waiting for the city manager to sign a memorandum of understanding, and Ring to grant it access to the portal before it can begin using it. Hunter did not know how long that process would take.

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Sydney Olsen

Sydney Olsen reports in the evenings during the week and on the weekend.


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