Report: Doorbell Cams Prompt More False Alarms

Doorbell cameras---like Amazon Ring---are becoming all the rage in neighborhoods across Houston and America. And they have become a valuable crime fighting tool for police officers, as well. But the technology that is intended to help police may also be slowing them down. A new CNET report describes a rise in false alarm reports attributed to doorbell cams, with residents reporting people and activities that are legal and harmless. In one recent incident, a woman reported a suspicious person outside her door that turned out to be a police officer responding to her earlier call for help. In another incident, a woman reported doorbell cam footage of a person entering her front door, only to find the footage was actually of her.

Despite the increase in these false reports, Houston Police Officers Union President Joe Gamaldi believes the positive effects of doorbell cameras outweigh the negatives. "This gives us the information we need in certain cases to track (suspects) down," he says. "Maybe it catches a good shot of the suspect's face...maybe it captures the license plate, or the getaway driver, or the make and model of the vehicle."

Gamaldi tells KTRH police are used to deciphering information from the public and determining when and how to respond. "False alarms have been going on since we've been doing police work," he says. "Someone sees someone walking through their neighborhood, they think this person looks suspicious, and they call."

The bottom line is that doorbell cameras are here to stay, and will only get more prevalent. So police recommend using a little discretion before reporting something. "Take a second, take a good look at that footage and decide is this something that I really need to contact the police for," says Gamaldi. "But otherwise, err on the side of caution and we'll get an officer out there to take a look."

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