Enforcing traffic laws through the use of cameras is nothing new. They’re everywhere from toll booths to traffic lights and should you choose to break the law, these cameras make sure you’re gifted with a ticket. In Arizona, the use of cameras has taken a new twist with law enforcement hiding them in the tops of fake cacti.
What makes these cameras a little questionable in the eyes of the public is that they aren’t being set up to catch you speeding or running a red light, but to read your license plate. That gets everyone’s knickers in a twist over concerns about privacy.
The town of Paradise Valley has using cacti as a disguise for awhile, but in the past it was about keeping the landscape pretty. You’ll find cell phone towers disguised as trees in many areas of the country, but Paradise Valley has been disguising them as cacti.
Now they’re using similar fake cacti to house cameras that will be taking snapshots of license plates as people drive the city streets. Residents are concerned that this all seems to have been done secretly, which makes people feel like they’re being spied on by Big Brother.
The town manager told Fox News that they weren’t trying to keep it all a secret and that the cameras aren’t even active. Now a special town meeting is being called to make sure that residents, town officials, and the police department are all in the loop about the cactus-cams.
The police reportedly asked for the cameras as a way of finding stolen cars. Tracking plates would give them a better chance at recovering stolen vehicles and hopefully tracking down those responsible and preventing future thefts.
It all sounds reasonable, but no one wants to think that their every move is somehow being recorded by the government. Laws are vague regarding what information can be collected, how it can be shared, and even for how long it can be retained which adds to everyone’s worries.
The citizens of Paradise Valley don’t have to worry too much yet since the cameras haven’t been activated. They might want to keep a closer on on the local flora in the future and smile pretty for the camera.