Ring has been in the news a lot lately. I wanted to learn more about how two local police authorities engage with Ring, so I filed FOIA requests with the Aurora and Naperville Police Departments to learn more about their relationship with Ring.
I’m confident that given the recent reporting through other FOIA driven efforts, that more will come up, but here is what I found in my first salvo of requests.
Here is what I sought:
- Any agreement or Memo of Understanding (MOU) related to Ring
- Any RFPs issued related to Ring
- Copies of all requests sent by the police department to view footage from Ring cameras, and include information of whether the footage was used in determining whether any criminal activity occurred
- All press packets issued by Ring
Naperville was only able to produce a press release about Ring which is available on their website. All of my other records sought did not return anything.
Aurora was more forthcoming with documents than Naperville. They were able to produce a MOU. In this MOU, it lays out the responsibilities of each party. This has been reported by other outlets, but it’s worth recapping what the MOU establishes.
Ring will distribute cameras to the Aurora PD and will also work on subsidizing said cameras. They’ll also “work with [the] APD to obtain data/call logs and publish the relevant incidents in the app based on terms agreed to with the APD.”
On the the Aurora PD side of the terms, the Aurora PD will encourage residents to purchase the cameras and they are to “make data related to APD incidents/call logs available to Ring on a mutually agreed upon basis.”
In an ironic twist, the MOU states that “unless required by law, APD shall keep the terms of the program confidential.” Obviously Ring is not familiar with public records requests.
Aurora PD also provided a spreadsheet of the incidents requesting data from Ring. Most requests were submitted by a single officer – Sergeant Andrew Wolcott, who is described as a “community oriented policing sergeant.” The requests mainly deal with information around shootings. What I find interesting is the tone of the request. A request in March of 2019 begins with “Hello Neighbor” but almost all of them are without salutations.
I’m surprised that Naperville PD was not able to turn up a document like this. For both having this agreement and having similar population sizes, it’s difficult to believe that the Naperville PD has not requested information from Ring nor has a MOU. I plan on appealing this FOIA request.