BOZEMAN — Doorbell cameras make it easy for people to see who might be lurking around their homes, right from their phones.
Law enforcement in Bozeman says they rely on the community’s home security footage all the time to help solve cases.
“You can see everything, and it sends you a notification every time something is in front of your door,” says Luisa Goodrum who is just one of many people using the home surveillance technology, 'Ring'.
The security cameras retail anywhere from $65-$350.
“My family just wanted to make sure we’re safe,” says Goodrum. “We have a lot of people come in and out of our neighborhood.”
Bozeman Police Department Detective Captain Dana McNeil says devices like the Ring Doorbell have given law enforcement new abilities to monitor neighborhoods.
“It’s super helpful for people to be able to pull up security footage on their cellphone and show us what happened at the time of the incident,” said McNeil. “Incidents like assaults, people breaking into houses, and we can even get surveillance of the street to see what was driving by at the time of the incident.”
A good example of this is the investigation of the Idaho murders. Authorities asked the public for help, requesting all security camera videos from those who lived or worked in the area on the night of the murders. This helped move their investigation forward.
“When I started 17 years ago it was very rare that the general public had surveillance for this type of stuff,” says McNeil. “These video doorbells and home security cameras are so helpful.”
More than 2,000 police and fire departments across the U.S. have cooperative agreements with the Ring Doorbell system. This allows them to ask all camera owners within half a square mile of a crime scene to share videos that could help with a case.
This is active in every state, except in Montana and Wyoming. But McNeil says that doesn’t stop Bozeman PD from knocking on doors and requesting footage.
“Sometimes that may just be us recording it off their phone or sometimes they can record it off their phone and send it to us,” says McNeil.
As for Goodrum, she says she hasn’t been alerted of any suspicious activity on her ring doorbell yet, but her parents have.
“Just me getting caught and sneaking out,” says Goodrum.