Smart Device Breaks Up Domestic Dispute By Calling the Police

Gizmodo – by Rhett Jones

We’re gradually learning that smart home devices can be quite valuable for police. Following a recent case in which Amazon handed over data from its Echo device to police investigating a murder, a smart device called the police when a couple was allegedly involved in a violent domestic dispute.

According to ABC News, officers were called to a home outside Albuquerque, New Mexico this week when a smart device called 911 and the operator heard a confrontation in the background. Police say that Eduardo Barros was house-sitting at the residence with his girlfriend and their daughter. Barros allegedly pulled a gun on his girlfriend when they got into an argument and asked her: “Did you call the sheriffs?” A smart device in the home apparently heard “call the sheriffs,” and proceeded to call the sheriffs.  

A SWAT team arrived at the home and after negotiating for hours, they were able to take Barros into custody. Police tell ABC News that the man’s girlfriend was injured but did not need to visit a hospital. The couple’s daughter was safe and unharmed.

“The unexpected use of this new technology to contact emergency services has possibly helped save a life,” Bernalillo County Sheriff Manuel Gonzales III said in a statement.

Barros was charged with possession of a firearm or destructive device by a felon, aggravated battery against a household member, aggravated assault against a household member and false imprisonment.

While smart home technology is the hero in the case, it will certainly leave some people uneasy. It’s a clear reminder that smart home devices are always listening. We don’t know what data, if any, was recorded by the Amazon Echo that was involved in the December murder case. But police felt confident enough that it may have recorded audio of the incident to seek a warrant.

In a different incident in January, a local TV news broadcast involving a dollhouse reportedly triggered multiple Amazon Echo devices in the area to start ordering dollhouses. It’s easy to imagine police getting tired of being called to citizen’s homes every time they watch the latest episode of Law and Order.

9 thoughts on “Smart Device Breaks Up Domestic Dispute By Calling the Police

  1. Anyone who brings such a device into his or her house is a born fool. At least stories like this one might provide a clue to those who need one.

    Personally, I don’t even trust cell phones or laptops enough to have a very private conversation near them. Anything with a microphone that can connect to a network should be kept isolated.

    1. My Kindle told me on April Fools Day, “Your Kindle now has Alexa. You’re welcome.” There is no disable, just cover all mics and speakers.
      I read. I play games. I surf the alt-news. Why the f*&% is Alexa on my device, even without my paying for it? Obviously not a convenience thing, since I never would’ve allowed that thing in my house, surveillance motives are most the probable. I’m re-considering owning a Kindle.

      1. For real? Damn, I’d ditch that thing ASAP.

        Besides, it’s my understanding that the Kindle spies on you to some degree even without Alexa on it.

        I wouldn’t trust Amazon worth a damn. Just on principle, I don’t even buy books from them anymore.

    2. What I always do, any time I get a new laptop. Open it up and physically remove the mic and camera. Simple and no messy tape marks

  2. Isn’t the AI on a smart phone wonderful…

    I have a new phrase to plug into the 911 autodial smart phone.

    ” I come home early for lunch and your in bed screwing my best friend..”


    Autodial 911 alexa.

    I think we have a domestic violence situation here.

  3. look at the bright side..these devices can bring the war to you, so you dont have to leave the house

    just be dam ready when they ALL get there .. no excuses

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