The police department of Lakeland, Florida cut a secret deal with Amazon to promote the company’s Ring doorbell cameras.
In exchange for free cameras and de facto surveillance software that lets cops access people’s Ring feeds, the police are advertising Ring cameras to their communities, according to a confidential agreement obtained by Motherboard. It’s the first glimpse into the grim deals that Amazon has struck with dozens of police forces across the country.
Lakeland’s police agreed to take on dedicated roles as publicists, social media managers, and community liaisons on behalf of Ring, per Motherboard. In exchange, Amazon gave the police department 15 free Ring cameras and a $10 credit towards more cameras for each time a Lakeland resident downloaded Ring’s accompanying neighborhood watch app, Neighbors.
The deal raises a troubling question: do we want police department beholden to a massive corporation instead of the communities they serve?
“When really powerful companies, or police for that matter, are incentivized to find crime, they’re going to find it no matter what,” Chris Gilliard, who studies discrimination at Macomb Community College, told Motherboard. “It’ll ultimately shift the definition of what is a crime and lead to over-policing in some ways. Frankly, [it’s] the broken windows style that tends to harm marginalized communities more.”
READ MORE: Amazon Requires Police to Shill Surveillance Cameras in Secret Agreement [Motherboard]