ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — Winnebago County is using its American Rescue Plan funds to give homeowners an added sense of security while helping law enforcement solve crimes.

Four county board members chose to use their allocated money to purchase Ring Video Doorbell cameras for eligible residents. One official said that each district has roughly 14,000 residents and they will give out more than 600 cameras on a first-come, first-serve basis.

“It’s better to be safe than sorry,” said resident Joe Conner. “And you’re not only helping yourself, you’re helping your neighbors, too, in the long run, possibly.”

Connor was one of many residents who met at Broadway Covenant Church Tuesday to learn more about Winnebago County’s Ring Doorbell Safety Initiative. The program will give homeowners who live in Districts 4, 10, 11, and 15 a free video doorbell.

“Three of the districts encompass the whole southern part of Rockford, so it was important to get as many doorbells as we could into that area, those districts, just so that we could have one almost on every block,” said Burt Gerl, Winnebago County Board Member for District 15. “So, if someone was coming in and thinking about doing a crime, they’re going to know they’re on video one way or the other, coming or going into the neighborhood.”

Gerl said that the Ring camera acts as an extra set of eyes around town.

“Part of the Ring Doorbell, it kind of replaces the old Neighborhood Watch that you remember from 20-30 years ago, where neighbors would trade places and they would stay up all night, driving the neighborhood and trying to keep it safe,” Gerl said. “Well, technology has replaced that with a Ring Doorbell.”

Connor agrees. He said that he has had surveillance set up around his home for about two years and they have helped scare off potential criminals. He believes that more community involvement can make all the difference.

“You can’t stand on the sidelines and criticize,” Connor said. “You have to have to get involved and at least try to do something, however minimal.”

Gerl added that they are looking for funding to make this a county-wide initiative. More information can be found on the Winnebago County website.