- Amazon-owned Ring enlisted LAPD officers to help promote its products, the LA Times reported.
- Ring gave the officers free cameras and encouraged them to share discount codes with other officers.
- Ring has courted hundreds of law enforcement and emergency services agencies to help push its products.
- See more stories on Insider’s business page.
Amazon-owned Ring recruited Los Angeles Police Department officers as brand ambassadors to help promote its security cameras and smart doorbells, the Los Angeles Times reported Thursday.
Ring gave free products or discount codes to more than 100 LAPD officers, and encouraged them to share the discount codes with other law enforcement officers and members of the public, according to the Times.
More than 15 of those officers ended up promoting Ring products, and the company ended up giving away tens of thousands of dollars in free product, including at least $12,000 to a single police station, the Times reported.
Ring’s version of an influencer marketing program, which it called “Neighborhood Pillar,” enlisted LAPD officers to “educate members of the community on the benefits of Ring” by sharing discount codes and promotional materials to “influential people in the community that care about crime prevention safety,” with every 10 uses of the discount codes earning them a free Ring device, the Times reported.
“The practices and programs in question do not reflect Ring today. We stopped donating to law enforcement and encouraging police to promote our products years ago. As Ring has grown, our practices have evolved, and we are always looking for ways to better serve our customers and their communities,” a Ring spokesperson told Insider.
Ring told Insider it stoppe the Pillar program in 2019.
LAPD ethics policies prohibit officers from receiving “gifts, gratuities or favors of any kind which might reasonably be interpreted as an attempt to influence their actions with respect to City business.”
An LAPD spokesperson told the Times that an initial review of emails between its officers and Ring didn’t find any violations of that policy.
But privacy and law enforcement experts told the Times that officers’ public safety advice to members of their communities might be biased – or give the appearance of bias – because of the promise of receiving free Ring devices.
Vice previously reported on how Ring aggressively pursued partnerships with law enforcement agencies around the country over the years as it has tried to build out its private surveillance camera network, inking deals with hundreds of police and even fire departments.
The rise of such privately owned networks, which allow police to access camera footage in many cases without a warrant, have drawn criticism from privacy and criminal justice experts, as well as Amazon employees, who say that they present major privacy risks.