LAKELAND, Fla. (WFLA) – Lakeland’s police chief is denying that his department is required to encourage residents to buy Ring security cameras.
VICE News published a story Thursday that stated Lakeland Police has a “secret agreement” with Amazon, Ring’s parent company.
“I wouldn’t call anything in local government secret,” said Chief Ruben Garcia.
Chief Garcia says the agreement is subject to public records requests, even though few knew it existed.
The agreement grants Lakeland Police access to Ring’s Neighborhood Portal.
“We’re just looking at footage that folks take and send in to these different companies then they make it available to us,” said Chief Garcia.
VICE News’ headline states Lakeland PD is forced to “shill” for Amazon.
The agreement lists Lakeland PD’s first “responsibility” as engaging the Lakeland community with outreach efforts on the platform to “encourage adoption of the platform/app.”
“We don’t encourage any particular product. We do tell folks during our crime prevention talks that video surveillance in their residence is a good way to capture evidence,” said Chief Garcia.
“We do not enlist law enforcement to advertise our Ring cameras,” wrote a Ring spokesperson in a statement, who also denied that agreements are “secret.”
In March, Chief Garcia’s department returned 15 free cameras sent by Ring.
“We’re not in the business of repping any particular product,” said Garcia.
The agreement states it will donate Ring cameras to Lakeland Police or “area of Lakeland” based on the number of app downloads.
The Polk County Sheriff’s Office has an agreement with Ring about which it released a press release in May 2018.
Tampa Police also has access to Ring’s Neighborhoods Police Portal.