Neighborhood Watch Enters the Smartphone Era in Hammond, Ind.

Police in the city are urging residents to use an app that connects them with a neighborhood-based network, allowing them to share media, send texts and receive alerts from the department.

by Will Racke, The Times / April 16, 2019

(TNS) — Hammond police are encouraging residents to bring the time-tested concept of the neighborhood watch into the digital age with a new crime information sharing app.

Known as Neighbors, the app allows users to join a neighborhood-based network where they can share videos, photos and text messages while receiving real-time crime and safety alerts from police.

Neighbors is a product of Ring, a California-based subsidiary of Amazon known for its home security camera and lighting systems. The Hammond Police Department is one of just a handful of law enforcement agencies in Indiana that are using the app, according to Mayor Thomas McDermott Jr.

“This app will provide the police department an additional method of communication within our neighborhoods and will allow our residents to keep their neighbors and our police up to date on what is happening in their part of the city,” McDermott said in a statement Wednesday.

The Neighbors app is free and can be downloaded to Apple and Android smartphones, according to Hammond police. After users opt in to a specific neighborhood, they can customize their accounts to receive crime notices from both neighbors and police. They can also upload photos and videos from any device including Ring cameras.

While police can share information with the public with the Neighbors app, they cannot use it to tap into the video feeds of residents with Ring camera systems, according to Hammond police Lt. Steven Kellogg.

“The only videos the police department can view are the ones released by the residents,” he told The Times.

Kellogg also cautioned the Neighbors app is not meant as a substitute for calling 911 to report a crime in progress or other emergency.

©2019 The Times (Munster, Ind.). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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