You have to be living under a rock to not notice the rise in crime in the Billings and surrounding areas. Thefts of all types are up, as are violent crimes. It's easy to lament "the good old days" when you could leave the keys in your car and your front door unlocked. Unfortunately, those days aren't coming back. As the population grows, so does crime.


Even YCSO has an account on a neighborhood watch app. You should too.

The Yellowstone County Sheriff's Office announced on Facebook in June of 2021 that the department has now joined the Neighbors app. It's a service offered by Ring, the company that makes the extremely popular, cloud-based security cameras.

Missoula County Sheriff's Department was first in Montana to start using the Neighbors app.

According to Ring's website, the Missoula County Sheriff's Department started using the app in late May 2021. Officer Jeanette Smith said they've already benefitted from Neighbors, stating that the app helped them locate a missing 12-year-old.

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A Ring camera is not required to use the App.

You do not have to have a Ring camera to use the app. I just downloaded it (free) in the app store. It asks for your name, phone number, email and then you choose the neighborhood you'd like to monitor. Neighbors can share suspicious activity, lost dogs, fires, whatever. In my neighborhood in Laurel, it doesn't appear to have very many users yet.

Credit: Getty Stock/Stephen Brashear
Credit: Getty Stock/Stephen Brashear

What about privacy?

Can the police or authorities access your camera without your permission? No. Not according to Ring. Their FAQ page states,

Neighbors is designed to ensure that when local public safety agencies use Neighbors, they do not have access to user information or video recordings unless a user posts that information or video recording to the Neighbors App or shares it in response to a Request for Assistance post.

Will you use the Neighbors app? It seems that at the moment, its usefulness is limited by the number of users, but that could obviously change as more people join.

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