Hidden cact-eye: Paradise Valley responds to the controversy

Cameras are hidden in fake cactus around Paradise Valley.

City leaders initially said they didn't want to talk about them, but now Paradise Valley Police are addressing the license plate reader cameras that they say will take photos of every license plate that comes through town.

FOX 10 learned that the cameras were paid for with the help of a private donor, Bruce Halle.

Halle is the founder of Discount Tire, and pitched in $234,000.

Both Halle and his wife were robbed at gunpoint and tied up in their Paradise Valley home in 2011, the case was never solved.

"Safety is the bottom line, so that residents feel safer. If a crime does occur in Paradise Valley, hopefully there is a vehicle attached to it, and we can search that database. And it also lets the bad guys know if you drive through Paradise Valley, most likely we're going to get your license plate," said Officer Kevin Albert.

License plate readers will be placed in these 11 stations in the perimeter of Paradise Valley, town leaders call it an electronic fence.

"The equipment looks for the rear license plate, it doesn't take a picture of the front of the car. So the driver is never identified, there's no owner information, or vehicle information, there's no personal information in that database whatsoever," said Albert.

Police are notified if a license plate hits on a nation-wide hot list that includes stolen vehicles, Amber Alerts, and DHS watch list plates.

"We could show that because of an order of protection a car was within a 1 mile radius of the residence," he said.

Not only will police be able to pinpoint bad guys in seconds, they can look back at the data to see if a suspect was near a crime scene.

Police say the data will be stored for six months, then erased.

"We want to make sure residents, or anyone who drives through Paradise Valley understands their rights are not going to be violated, this isn't a database officers can look up and see what time you left home, you left work, or anything like that. This is truly for investigative purposes," he said.

Police say there is no talk of putting up signs to warn drivers of the cameras.

Seven of the license plate readers will be active June 16, 2015. The other four cameras are awaiting installation.