KC-area police use Neighbors app to track criminal activity

Lenexa, Olathe, Overland Park and Shawnee are the first cities in Kansas to use the app billed as a digital neighborhood watch program. The Neighbors app provides local, real-time crime and safety information, police say.

Residents download the app to monitor neighborhood activity; share crime- and safety-related videos, photos and posts; and receive real-time safety alerts from neighbors, the police and the Ring team.

Customers are not required to share their video, police say, and they voluntarily provide footage.

Still, the ACLU of Kansas is monitoring the situation.

“It’s one thing for community members to use the app, but it’s concerning when the government does,” said ACLU of Kansas Legal Director Lauren Bonds. “From a policy perspective, it could be a real problem.”

The Kansas City Police Department was the first law enforcement agency in Missouri to use the digital crime-fighting tool. To be sure, innovative approaches are needed to reduce crime in Kansas City. But this new technology also spurs new questions about the guard rails that are needed to protect people’s privacy and civil rights.

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