Ring removes Request for Assistance from Neighbors app in a further shift away from law enforcement assistance

(Image credit: Amazon/Ring)

Ring is just about done playing Robin to law enforcement's Batman.

For every amusing Ring Video Doorbell video showing a bear dancing in the snow or a mailman pirouetting to the Broadway show tune in his head, there are videos of people stealing packages, vandalizing homes, or committing other petty crimes. The video collected by these popular front door cameras has been a potential crime-fighting bonanza for local law enforcement.

After launching in 2013, Ring (an Amazon company) added the free Neighbors app in 2017 as a place where Ring customers in a community could share details of local crime (like people stealing packages from doorsteps). The platform also let local law enforcement post public service updates, and contact Ring owners directly to request videos of illegal activity happening outside their homes. While a potentially powerful crime deterrent, it was also seen as a possible privacy and civil-right-violating issue and Ring's track record for sharing customer videos with law enforcement without seeking permission wasn't exactly spotless.

Now following the 2021 update that forced local law enforcement to post all calls for video in a public part of the Neighbors app under "Request for Assistance," Ring has decided to sunset that feature, as well.

Neighbors becoming even more neighborly

In other words, there should be no more posts from law enforcement within the Neighbors app that describe a crime in your local Ring coverage area and then request videos relating to the incident. Ring customers can still, obviously, freely share videos with law enforcement and authorities if they choose.

In a release on the update, Ring head of Neighbors Eric Kuhn notes that " fire and police departments can still use the Neighbors app to share helpful safety tips, updates, and community events." The platform will no longer be a place to ask for and exchange videos with authorities.

Ring also appears to be pushing Neighbors beyond (or maybe away from) its community safety roots and more toward those viral videos we share on TikTok. It's adding a new Neighbors section called "Ring Moments," which is decidedly not about sharing crime and safety videos, and "Best of Ring" which will feature Ring-curated videos.

Ring's Neighbors will still, the company notes, be a place to share important information about safety-related events happening in your community, including floods, major storms, and fires but it's no longer a major law enforcement source for crime-fighting information.

You might also like

Lance Ulanoff
Editor At Large

A 38-year industry veteran and award-winning journalist, Lance has covered technology since PCs were the size of suitcases and “on line” meant “waiting.” He’s a former Lifewire Editor-in-Chief, Mashable Editor-in-Chief, and, before that, Editor in Chief of PCMag.com and Senior Vice President of Content for Ziff Davis, Inc. He also wrote a popular, weekly tech column for Medium called The Upgrade.

Lance Ulanoff makes frequent appearances on national, international, and local news programs including Live with Kelly and Ryan, the Today Show, Good Morning America, CNBC, CNN, and the BBC.