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Written by Subject: Arizona's Top News

Paradise Valley hides license-plate reading cameras in cactuses
Arizona Republic Newspaper

Hidden cactus cameras are freaking out the residents of a small Arizona town - Cameras have been installed in fake cacti throughout Paradise Valley without residents being informed -





May 20th, 2015
Community Resource Officer Kevin Albert
(480) 948-7418

In an effort to remain as transparent as possible, and to clarify questions regarding history, use and policies associated with License Plate Recognition Systems (LPR's) (a.k.a. License Plate Readers), the Town has assembled this packet of material for distribution and posting on the Paradise Valley website.  

You will find in this packet:
-A history of LPR Technology and its use;
-A link to Frequently Asked Questions regarding LPR's;
-A link to the Town's Public Safety Task Force Final Report that identified LPR's as a public safety technology to be considered;
-A link to the subsequent IXP Technology Assessment Final Report that identified the need for LPR's;
-A chronology (including links) of the Town's adoption, funding and procurement process for LPR's;
-Information regarding the donation of $234,000 to the Police Information Technology Projects.  This donation was intended to be anonymous and we ask that you respect this request and the privacy of the donor.  All records related to this donation are attached;
-A copy of the Police Department Policy on use and record retention of LPR data; and,
-A schedule for activating the fixed LPR's.

It was the Town Manager's intent to have this information ready at time of activation but he acknowledges it should have been prepared at time of construction and installation.

For more information please contact:
Community Resource Officer Kevin Albert at
History of the automated license plate reader (ALPR or LPR)
License plate readers are used worldwide by various types of agencies, mostly by law enforcement. In the United States over 70% of all police agencies use some sort of license plate reader technology. LPR's are widespread in Valley police cars including: Avondale, Chandler, Gilbert, Glendale, Maricopa County Sheriff, Mesa, Peoria, Phoenix, Scottsdale, and Tempe.  They can also be found around the State in Cochise County, Prescott, Gila County, Nogales, Oro Valley, Tucson and Yuma.  The Town of Paradise Valley will not use the information for minor violations, like unpaid court fines.  It will be used to ascertain information on wanted subjects and/or vehicles including Amber Alerts, Silver Alerts, and stolen vehicles.

Although a license plate reader is not new technology, the software gets better all the time. First started in Europe in the 1970's with very basic computers, today's technology uses a complex optical character recognition (OCR) program to extract the letters and numbers on the license plate. Once the system knows the license plate's alphanumeric digits, it checks the plate against a database, usually provided by the State Police, called a "hotlist." The hotlist is comprised of different license plates that are either stolen, wanted subjects, Amber Alert and so on. A match from one of those cameras to the State's hotlist does not automatically mean the plate or vehicle is wanted. The software cannot read the state of which the license plate is from therefore an officer will look at the photo and see if it does in fact match to the hotlist. Then a manual NCIC check will then be performed by the officer to verify that the plate or vehicle is indeed wanted.

Frequently asked question
Click on the image below to access the Frequently Asked Questions and corresponding answers.

Town of Paradise Valley Police Department Research and Process Timeline

This entire technology update was a result of the Town of Paradise Valley Mayor's Task Force on Public Safety. After realizing its police department was not up to standards compared with other similar nationwide agencies, they hired a company to assess its shortcomings and made several recommendations. Part of the recommendations was to get both mobile and fixed license plate readers. A priority of MEDIUM was given to the mobile automated license plate reader (on a scale of high to low).  The process began with research into companies that provided license plate reader technology. A request for proposal was sent out, 6 companies responded and L3 was selected as the preferred vendor.

April 16th, 2013

The Town of Paradise Valley Mayor's Task Force on Public Safety Final Report issued in which it recommends LPR's be considered.  Click on the image below to link to a copy of the final report.

August 31st. 2013

On this date, IXP issued its Technology Assessment Final Report in which it identifies the need for LPR technology. Click on image to link to the full report.

October 10th, 2013

On this date, the Paradise Valley Police Department presented the following power point to the Mayor and Council during work/study session describing the implementation of the recommendations of the Public Safety Task Force and the IXP Technology Assessment.  These became known as Police Department Information Technology Projects or Initiatives. Click on image to view the PowerPoint.

March 27th, 2014

On this date, Council received an update during its study session on the Police Department Technology Projects that had been implemented and those still needing to be implemented.  Click on the link below to view the study session and the image below to view the associated PowerPoint presentation.

During the regular business meeting on March 27th, 2014, Mayor and Council took action (Resolution 1299) to appropriate $2.3 million in budget towards the IT Projects.  It further took action (Action Item 12.a.) to award a contract to L3 for the mobile LPR's.  Click on the link to view that agenda item and supporting materials.

March 28th, 2014

On this date a letter was sent to a Paradise Valley resident interested in donating money towards the procurement of the Police Technology. The letter was sent in March, but a donation was not received until July.  

This donation was intended to be anonymous and the Town asks that you respect this request and the privacy of the donor.  All records related to this donation are attached.  

The donation of $234,000 (see attached copy of check) was placed in the Town's General Fund and eventually moved to the Capital Improvement Fund to assist in paying for the Police Department's Technology Projects.  The first budget sheet shows the donation as a revenue for FY13-14 and is starred.  The second budget sheet shows the Police Technology Projects in the box.  Fixed LPR's are shown as costing $270,000.  This was an estimated cost for the equipment and did not include construction costs.  Later budget amendments noted further below denote those adjustments.

April 29th, 2014

Michael Gilman was brutally murdered in his Paradise Valley home during the evening of April 28th, 2014. A video of Mr. Gilman's vehicle being followed by what the Paradise Valley police department believes to be a suspect in his homicide was captured on a Scottsdale photo radar video but it could not read the license plate.  If the license plate readers would have been operational they could have helped in the investigation. The case is still open.

July 21st, 2014

Signed L3 contract describing costs, locations and details of the fixed license plate readers

Locations of all fixed license plate readers throughout the Town as described in the L3 Proposal.

July 23rd, 2014

On this date a Town Council meeting occurred in which contracts were approved to purchase and install LPR's.   The two approved contracts total $757,459 to install 21 fixed License Plate Reader cameras in 11 locations around the Town.  Resolution 1314, amending the Fiscal Year 2014-2015 Adopted Budget to reflect the increase to $757,459 from the $270,000 was approved in the FY 2013-2014. Passed, adopted and approved by the Town Council. Click on the link below to view the Council meeting and supporting material.

September 11th, 2014

Power point presentation to Mayor & Council talking about mobile LPR on all patrol vehicles currently in use and upcoming fixed LPR's locations.  The Council meeting video can be accessed by clicking on the link below.

September  2014

In September 2014, Stanford Drive, on Paradise Valley's southwestern border, is undergoing a complete reconstruction.  Plans are developed to incorporate power, conduits and fixtures to accommodate the LPR's into the new design of the street.   

Original telephone pole where camera could have been mounted to on 40th St south of Stanford Dr.

New design for the renovated intersection at 40th St and Stanford Drive showing where cameras will be located.

Faux cactus designed to fit in with the new street design.  Later incorporated into other locations with no existing infrastructure.

March 26th, 2015

PVPD presents an update to the Mayor and Council during a March Study Session regarding the implementation of the Public Safety Task Force recommendations including the Technology Projects. Click on the link below to view the video and supporting materials.

May, 2015

Final Police Department Policy adopted regarding use of LPR's and management of the associated data.

June 2015

Construction and installation of the 11 LPR locations is broken into multiple phases.  All seven (7) entry points on the west and southwest into Paradise Valley are scheduled to be completed and activated the week of June 16, 2015.  The remaining four (4) entry points on the east and southeast have not yet been scheduled due to pending construction issues.  

For more information please contact:
Community Resource Officer Kevin Albert at .

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3 Comments in Response to

Comment by Quisno Rodonovich
Entered on:

When looking at rights of the individual and the Bill of rights i can safely say that the license plate photo cameras are a restriction on those personal rights. You want to catch those who don't observe mandates to a law not in the constitution ? You have now placated the New world orders plan to subjugate the people to their laws. The laws of the republic were simple Gods laws and common law ( only when i damage others property or their person may i be tried by a group of my peers to enact justice for my actions) When Gods law is terminated in this nation i would suppose that the republic is dead. Who has won? the tyranny? the people? no only Georg Hegel's dialectic. We have no 4th amendment in any court in todays United states. very little 1st and the 2nd is being fought as i write this. And to what end? > when we expect protection from our government cant we expect that soon we will become its servants? Power is where we live ,the dirt we stand on the floors of our homes the meeting areas where all people should congregate for expediting our grievances? But how can we when we are taught that the television is the answer to all of our needs? That our schools are only to teach children to think as a group not as an individual. That to be different is to be unsocial therefore untenable in today's Communist nation for that is where this nation is headed. And i have seen this same inoculation in Russia many years ago.

Comment by Powell Gammill
Entered on:

The surveillance state started in Paradise Valley with America's first photoradar cameras operated by a foreign entity whom bribed said officials for the privilege of fleecing their constituents and keeping a permanent video record of their comings and goings.So it is hardly surprising that they have again sought to increase their surveillance.

I am quite certain 15-20 years form now the graft behind the cameras will again show itself long after the damage was done and of course nothing will come of the revelations. Suckers!!!!

Comment by John Green
Entered on:

I find it ironic how Paradise Valley got (forced) Bruce T Hall of Discount Tire to "anonymously" "donate" $275,000 to fund the LPR program, which otherwise would NOT have been funded, in exchange for Discount Tire maintaining PV's fleet contract business.

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