Police give ring cameras to survivors of abuse. Does he help?


Under the pilot programs in Texas and Florida, survivors are expected to share footage of incidents directly with police. But outside of these programs, some domestic violence videos have found their way into larger places: the Neighbors app, the Internet and the evening news.

In June 2019, a disturbing scene unfolded in Manor, Texas, over 100 miles east of Bexar County. In the grainy black and white video, then shared on social networks and picked up by local television channels, a woman approaches and knocks frantically on the front door of a house. She looks over her shoulder several times. His strike becomes more urgent. A man approaches quickly as she begs, “Stop!” Please no!”

“Come here!” said the man. “Get in the car!” He pulls it out of the camera frame.

A similar video was captured in Arcadia, Calif., In September 2019. Dressed in what looks like pajamas, a woman bumps into the frame of another doorbell camera. She too looks over her shoulder as she strikes, but her attacker quickly catches up with her. As she shouts “no! And tries to resist, the man drags her by the hair on the lawn. The view is obstructed, but he seems to hit her repeatedly and stomp on her. Finally, he said, “Get up or I’ll kill you.” ”

These videos reveal traumatic moments, and experts say the individuals captured by the camera have no control over what happens to the footage. In both cases, the camera belongs to a stranger, and so does the video. The owner is the one who accepts Amazon’s terms of service and chooses how to share the video, whether it’s uploaded to the Neighbors app, turned over to the police, or released to the media.

The person in the sequence “has no connection with the business. . . and never agreed to have their image cut out, turned into a product, ”said Angel Díaz, senior advocate for the Freedom and National Security program at the Brennan Center for Justice. Critics such as Díaz argue that these videos essentially become free marketing material for Ring, which markets fear and voyeurism.

The company retorts that videos like these, as heartbreaking as they are, can help protect the public. “Ring created Neighbors to allow people to share important safety information with each other and connect with the public safety agencies that serve them,” Daniels, Ring’s spokesperson, wrote in a mailed statement. electronic.

And, says Ring, he’s taking steps to protect the privacy of people who appear in such videos. “When it comes to sharing customer videos with the media or on our owned channels, our current policy is that we either get a release or blur the face of every identifiable person in the video before sharing it. “

When violent incidents like these are filmed and shared, it may appear on the surface that the CCTV system and neighbors watching over each other are working as they should. Video evidence can certainly help police and prosecutors. But advocates for victims of domestic violence say that when these intimate moments are made public, those involved are victimized again, losing their power to make their own decisions. The women in these videos may have wanted and need help, advocates say, but not necessarily from the police.

In Manor, Texas, for example, police charged the man in the abduction video for third degree felony. But the woman in the video later told local reporters she was looking for a lawyer to try to get the charges dropped.

“The goal is not to [getting] the survivor to prosecute or convince them to participate in the criminal proceedings, ”says Tuller, the former director of the New York women’s shelter. “The goal is to keep them safe and get them to share the resources and support they need.”

In addition, some reviews of Ring cameras say Ring’s viral videos distort how the public thinks about the prevalence of violent crime and how useful surveillance cameras can be in combating it.

“They sell fear in exchange for people who give up their privacy,” Díaz explains to the Brennan Center. But the problem with this narrative, he adds, is that the reason some crimes affecting marginalized people go unaddressed is usually not “a lack of evidence” but rather a “lack of public interest”. part of the police departments to investigate “such crimes. when the victims belong to communities of color or are women victims of domestic violence.


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