Millions of doorbell cameras and home security systems have become an invaluable investigative resource for police, recording illegal activity from porch pirates to serious, violent crimes, including the alleged placement of pipe bombs at the Republican National Committee and Democratic National Committee offices in Washington D.C., on the eve of the January 6 attack.
However, an assault on FBI agents in Sunrise, Florida, also emphasized the dangerous disadvantage the technology places on law enforcement.
On February 2, a group of FBI agents approached a residence to serve a federal warrant for a case involving child pornography and violent crimes against children, Miami FBI Agent Michael D. Leverock and FBI Agents Association President Brian O’Hare confirmed to The Washington Post. Allegedly, suspect David Lee Huber spotted their approach via a doorbell camera and opened fire with an assault-style weapon. Agents Daniel Alfin and Laura Schwartzenberger were killed and three others survived gunshot wounds.
“What happened there will influence police departments, in that they’ve got another thing to worry about. Just the act of knocking on someone’s door can be dangerous. They’re trained how to do that. But this introduces
another cautionary note for how that technology can have unintended consequences,” Chuck Wexler, executive director for Police Executive Research Forum, told the newspaper.
Just the act of knocking on someone’s door can be dangerous. … But this introduces another cautionary note for how that technology can have unintended consequences.
Indeed, concerns about how the technology could be used against law enforcement have been growing in recent years. The Washington Post cited a 2019 FBI bulletin that specifically called out doorbell cameras being used by suspects as a “risk to [agents’] present and future safety.”
As such, police departments are considering proactive protocols and technological solutions, such as using Wi-Fi jammers to cut feed prior to approaching a location.
“We can hail them through the door with a robot. There are many, many solutions, and those are just a couple that are out there. We have drones. Quite frankly, we can fly a drone to the front door,” Lieutenant Ralph McDuffe, a tactical commander with the Lake County Sheriff’s Office, said to Orlando’s Fox News.
Huber purportedly died at his own hands after shooting the FBI agents.