ALPHARETTA, Ga. — Alpharetta has joined a growing number of cities that are linking their local law enforcement with residential surveillance systems.
At its Nov. 18 meeting, City Council members voted unanimously to permit the Public Safety Department to partner with doorbell camera company Ring to request video recorded by homeowners’ cameras within a specific time and area to investigate criminal activity.
Under terms of the agreement, police do not receive ongoing or live-video access, and homeowners can decline the requests, which Ring sends via email. Residents must give prior approval to allow their doorbell video to be included in the agreement.
“The big thing is that residents have to sign off on using this, and if they don’t want to be a part of it, they don’t have to,” Public Safety Director John Robison said.
Ring has made the service available to police departments at no cost.
In addition to assisting with criminal investigations, Robison said the service will allow police, on occasion, to alert users with the Ring app of certain public safety warnings, such as an increase in car burglaries in certain areas.
“It can be specific to all Ring users or it can be specific to a certain geographic area or neighborhood,” he said.
The city’s action follows on the heels of similar initiatives in neighboring jurisdictions.
Over the past couple of months, Milton and Johns Creek have signed agreements for voluntary partnerships between Ring customers and police.
Alpharetta Councilman Ben Burnett, who has voiced concern over the spread of government surveillance, said he favors partnerships like the Ring agreement where residents volunteer to assist law enforcement. He said he draws the line, however, when the surveillance stretches beyond the homeowner’s realm.
Burnett voted against the city’s installation of tag reading cameras at all of the city’s 16 school zones earlier this year, arguing that residents should be able to move about the city free of government monitoring.
Earlier this month, the City of Sandy Springs approved purchase of 99 license plate reader cameras for placement throughout the city.
“That was amazing,” Burnett said. “Many people give away their civil liberties without realizing they have them.”
He said that since his earlier vote in opposition to “broad, brush stroke” surveillance, he has been contacted by like-minded officials in cities throughout the state.
In other action at the Nov. 18 meeting, the council approved a contract with DAF Concrete for more than a mile and a half of sidewalk repairs and replacement. The city maintains more than 200 miles of sidewalks, and this contract will focus along both sides of Old Milton Parkway in front of Will’s Park, along the south side of Milton Avenue from Wills Road to the stream, and along the east side of Haynes Bridge Road, between Georgia Lane and the Greenway access parking lot.
The award for just under $449,000 includes demolition, haul off, disposal of panels of sidewalk that are unsafe due to cracking and uplift, installation of new sidewalk panels and updated handicap ramps.
All told, the work will cover approximately 8,800 linear feet of sidewalk.