FLORISSANT, Mo. — Jeremy Fox installed a smart Ring doorbell at his Florissant home in January to track mail deliveries, never expecting he’d instead record crucial police evidence.
“See, he was hiding behind that bush,” Fox said pointing to the April 6 video. “He has a gun in his hand right now.”
Fox said some kids had been running up to cars, trying to intimidate neighbors, and holding up what looked like a gun.
When he looked at the video his Ring had stored on the cloud, he saw one of the kids hide a BB gun behind a bush as adults approached to reprimand the children. Fox posted the video online, and police took notice.
"Ten minutes later a cop pulled up to my house,” Fox said. “He asked if I had registered [the Ring] on the Florissant website, and I said ‘no.’ I didn't know nothing about that."
As camera-enabled doorbells become more and more common, local police departments are recruiting residents to volunteer for their surveillance camera registries, hoping neighbors will not only protect their own front porch but the whole street.
"It really is a gamechanger,” Florissant Police Public Information Officer Steve Michael said.
Michael has been promoting Florissant PD’s home camera registry since it launched, collecting about 100 residents in their database.
Related link: Florissant Police -- Resident Camera Program
He pointed out the entire process is voluntary. Residents let the department know their home has a surveillance system. If the police have a case in the area, an officer may visit and ask you to look through your recordings. If the owner finds something, he or she can choose to share it with police.
"Policing is growing with technology,” Michael said. "We need the help from our citizens and our residents to be our eyes and ears."
As one of the first St. Louis area departments with a registry, Michael said he’s fielded questions from other departments looking to launch similar programs, calling their database “a feather in our cap.”
Related link: St. Charles County Police -- Community Camera Program
Fox said he'll sign up for the Florissant database, taking a cue from one of the adults in his video who is overheard saying “this is a great neighborhood... we all gotta work to keep it that way.”
Florissant Police did identify two kids in Fox’s video. They could not give more information about the status of their charges due to the children’s age.