PINELLAS PARK, Fla. (WFLA) – The Pinellas Park Fire Department is among the first in the Tampa Bay area to team up with Ring for a new safety system.
Ring’s “Neighbors” application allows first responders and community members who download the app to easily exchange information about local incidents. Leaders with the Pinellas Park Fire Department tell 8 On Your Side it could be a helpful tool when investigators are searching for the cause of suspicious fires.
“We’re arriving at the scene after the fire is out and it’s hard to get answers to those questions. But how amazing would it be if we could actually get those answers as they were starting,” said Jillian Rose with PPFD.
Using the app, investigators target a specific area around the incident and send an alert to everyone who has the app. Detectives can ask for video and information.
Any neighbor who is on the app in the designated area can reply anonymously with tips and footage from their own security camera — regardless of the brand.
“It could be the time it started – were there any cars, who was at the scene – and it could even answer some questions – that this wasn’t arson, this was a lightning strike,” Rose explained. “It could have several different factors. It can help out in either way but it definitely helps us get the answers we need to solve the problems.”
PPFD is working in partnership with the Pinellas Park Police Department. A police spokesperson told 8 On Your Side that video from the system has led to multiple arrests for a variety of crimes since it launched in November 2020.
“Someone posted their video that their car was burglarized. With this video on this application, the officer reviewed the video and identified the subject they arrested earlier that morning,” Sergeant John Shea said. “Ultimately, they were able to charge him for the vehicle burglary.”
Rose explained the fire department typically uses the system to push out public safety information — reminders about smoke detectors, alerts in the event of a hurricane, etc.