Post Gazette Article about the Neighbors app.

https://www.post-gazette.com/local/south/2019/02/21/Castle-Shannon-to-utilize-real-time-crime-information-app/stories/201902140018

The Castle Shannon Police Department plans to deploy a new tool in crime prevention that involves an app that residents can download on their cell phones.

It’s called the Neighbors App, which is available through Ring, a home security company, that often advertises a crime-fighting doorbell fitted with a video camera.   

The Castle Shannon Police Department is the first law enforcement agency in Western Pennsylvania to join the Neighbors App, which the company says will provide a community with real-time local safety and crime information. The Northern York County Regional Police Department was the first in the state to use the app.

“We’re excited to have the Castle Shannon Police Department join Neighbors to keep their community up-to-date on local crime and safety information,” Jamie Siminoff, chief inventor and founder of Ring, said in a news release.

Although residents do not need a Ring doorbell or camera device to use the Neighbors App to gain information, for those who do have a device, the app is designed to transmit video from the owner to the police department.

“The utility in this free app allows the police department to reach out to residents who are using the app and ask for assistance with criminal activity and investigations,” said Castle Shannon police Chief Ken Truver.

“By downloading the app, our residents will be linked to an open dialogue with the police department and other neighbors in a ‘virtual neighborhood crime watch,’” Chief Truver said.

He said while they encourage residents to share pictures/video with the department, the information from residents will likely be used more for investigations.

But if someone needs immediate help or has an emergency, they should dial 911 as they normally would.

He said the Neighbors app and other technology, such as surveillance cameras, license plate readers, car cameras and body worn cameras, are tools to make the department “more productive and efficient in crime prevention and detection."

Chief Truver said he hopes to establish a “robust open dialogue with our residents to share valuable information in two-way communication.” He added the department has been using video technology to help solve crimes in Castle Shannon for years.

For instance, surveillance video was used to solve a 2017 convenience store robbery. It also has been used to solve a theft of heavy equipment and many leaving the scene crashes.

“We hope to employ our residential video partners to solve crimes in the neighborhoods of the borough and to deter criminal activity by announcing and promoting this partnership,” Chief Truver said.

The police chief said he expects a positive response from the initiative.

“We expect that our residents will continue to take an interest in their safety and an active part in this crime prevention effort,” he said. “We are a small community, but Castle Shannon is very active and engaged.”

Castle Shannon residents can download the free Neighbors app by Ring on iOS or Android phones by going to https://download.ring.com/castleshannon or texting “castleshannonpa” to 555888.

Once downloaded, residents can opt in to their neighborhood and customize the geographic area for which they would like to receive notifications. Users must verify where they are located and cannot participate in other neighborhoods.

The app will allow residents to receive real-time alerts from neighbors, law enforcement and the Ring team informing of crime and safety alerts as they happen. Residents also can view local crime and safety posts via a live feed or interactive map and share text updates, photos and videos taken on any device.

Deana Carpenter, freelance writer: suburbanliving@post-gazette.com.

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