The city of Paradise Valley, Arizona maintains that they weren’t trying to be secretive or anything like that. They say the cameras aren’t even functional yet.
But what has residents concerned is the fact that no one was notified that the city was planning to put up surveillance cameras throughout the city. And on top of that, they’ve at least given the impression that the cameras were being deliberately hidden inside fake cacti.
According to city officials, the cameras are license plate readers, and they’re allegedly going to use them to track down stolen vehicles. The Blaze reported:
The cameras will serve as license plate readers to help locate stolen cars or vehicles that are the subjects of Amber alerts. But town manager Kevin Burke said the move was never meant to be secretive. He added that he requested police not announce them until they were all together and everybody was on the same page.
“We want to make sure we’re answering everybody’s questions about data retention, how the things will be used, we want to make sure that is vetted before we turn these things up,” Burke told KSAZ.
Asked by a local reporter why the technology hadn’t been vetted before it was even installed, Burke admitted that’s a legitimate concern.
“It probably is fair. This is technology. We’re always learning about it, and so every time you think you’ve got it covered someone brings up a new idea,” Burke said.
Burke explained the town had decided to use the desert plants since there were no light poles in the area and fake cacti offered an aesthetically pleasing alternative.
The cameras are reportedly part of a $2 million technology upgrade the Paradise Valley city council passed last year. Burke said the cameras won’t be operational until all of them have been installed.
I don’t necessarily think the city was trying to be secretive. But this is one of those things that probably should have been addressed with the residents of the city before they decided to go through with the project. People don’t like being spied on, especially by a government agency.
Whether or not that’s going to be the cameras’ actual purpose remains to be seen. But perhaps that’s why they didn’t put the issue before the city residents. They knew that most people would probably object.
The other factor here is money. Whatever company was chosen to install these “cact-eyes” will make a good deal of money from its contract with the city.