Family and friends gathered around for the unveiling. At last, we were finally going to get some answers from Arizona Public Service (APS) about why they had installed a surveillance camera in our suburban, Phoenix neighborhood. Jill Monier, from Fox10, promised a fair and balanced report. My hours of investigation and research were about to bear fruit. Surely, cloud-nine allegories could compare to this moment. It was exhilarating!
Tuning into Fox 10’s Livestream feed, I anticipated significant results. Based on the news I had received from Jill, I knew where the story was heading. She requested that I hold off on publishing anything related to a threat on an APS employee until her piece aired. Closed-door meetings with APS’s Public Relations Representative, Damon Gross, and Fox 10 producers guaranteed “news” with a slant; I just didn’t know the details.
Clicking play and enlarging the screen, I waited patiently for the news.
Leading into the piece, Fox 10 recounted a story of a local lady being burglarized and how private security cameras helped catch the criminals. I noticed the pro-surveillance bias, but let it slide eager for my time. As the subliminal info-ticker, at the bottom of the screen flashed, “Lofts Burglarized,” the story began.
The news anchors appeared serious enough opening the piece, and they posed a thought-provoking question. “How would you feel if you walked out your front door one day and noticed a big surveillance camera had been installed on a light pole across the street with no warning or notice?” The finger slamming and lean in seemed a little over dramatically choreographed, and I had to remind myself these ‘news’ anchors were basically actors, reporting the news.
Back slaps from friends and family commenced as my face hit the screen. There I was, explaining the story. Switching to a panning view of what was supposedly my neighborhood, the first audible objections to the newscast began.
“Where the Hell is that?” A friend exclaimed, peering in for a closer look.
Uncomfortable chuckles lifted to ease the tension of witnessing the blatant misinformation, just as my beautiful wife graced the airwaves. Confident and poised, Ananda was quoted as only saying the camera could see into backyards. Shocked they cut her off, Ananda shouted at the computer. Her statement to the reporter on the capabilities of the camera to look through windows were snubbed.
We continued watching with a discerning eye.
After another panning shot of not my neighborhood, I returned to the screen recounting my path through APS’s bureaucracy. While my course through APS’s web was stated, the lies, disinformation, and stonewalling were summed up in one sentence, “But it wasn’t until FOX 10 started making calls that APS came forward admitting they installed the camera.” That’s it… I was stunned. Jill never mentioned why APS was dismissive of my questions, or why they were denying knowledge of the camera from the start. That information apparently wasn’t dealt with nor was it mentioned.
Moreover, APS was not the only entity complicit in the cover up, although the “news” piece would have us think so. Fox 10 mentioned that I found out the camera was not from the police and that I got scared, but never mentioned Sgt. Harrison from the Phoenix Police Department deliberately misleading me to believe that law enforcement was not involved in any way. Hell, Harrison tried to deny that it was even a camera. Fox 10 never mentioned my calls with local law enforcement and dismissed that entire part of the investigation with my quote of being scared.
APS’s statement: “This was a unique situation. In coordination with the city and local law enforcement, we placed the camera to provide an extra level of HOME security for an APS employee who had legitimate concern for the safety of his family. The camera focused solely on the employee’s residence. No other properties were in view.”
We were lead to believe this camera, which no one would initially claim knowledge of and which others denied even existed, was put up for home security, and everyone knew about it. Furthermore, APS’s statement of the camera only focusing on the APS employee’s property was never challenged. It was accepted as fact by Fox 10 news.
From City of Phoenix seal of approval to Phoenix Police Department down to APS, all parties were aware of the situation.
City of Phoenix’s statement: “the street transportation department did approve the camera installation, with the understanding that it was for an APS business need. Any such requests are approved on a case by case basis.”
Then why the denial, lies, and disinformation/misinformation? If APS really put the camera up for HOME security of an employee, why wouldn’t they just tell me as much? Having me run around trying to figure the story out and publishing the exact location and direction of the camera seems counter productive to keeping the APS employee ‘safe’. A collaborative effort to suppress information by the city, police, and APS could point to an actual level of classification assigned to this ‘unique situation.’ At the very least, it’s been stated that they were working together; and after Fox 10’s meeting with Damon Gross, it appeared the ‘news’ was as well.
Hearing Jill announce that APS should be ‘commended’ for protecting an employee, as stated by Diane Brown with Arizona PIRG, made me sick to my stomach. Concerned residents were left with an “at a bare minimum” statement. Which, I might like to add, has only been delivered through this Fox 10 news report. I have yet to hear from anyone, and yes they have my number.
Seeing Marc Victor being interviewed by Jill brought a little hope back to the story. I knew he would be the right man to get the message of liberty out, and it was refreshing to see Jill had followed through and had taken my advice about contacting Marc.
I agree with Marc, “no reasonable person should have an expectation of privacy, once they step out of their house.” However, I would argue that reasonable expectation of privacy and reasonable expectation of surveillance are two different concepts. Plus, the neighborhood had concerns of private images being captured from inside houses and backyards by the camera. I knew Jill was looking into the specifics of the camera, yet no details were reported. Fox 10 news’ refusal to discuss the capabilities of the camera significantly limited the debate.
After Jill closed the story with, “ They (APS) were reviewing their use of a camera in this case;” the news anchor guided viewers over to their Facebook page to continue the conversation. Promising to air some of the comments later on in the program, I decided to join the dialog. Fox 10 never mentioned the story again, except as humorous segues for the weather and sports. No comments were read on air.
Hopping over to the news article published on myfoxphoenix.com, I was dismayed to find that my website had not been attributed as requested. Instead they credited the photos to an Adam Holman and misspelled my wife’s name. Figuring is was just an oversight I shot Jill a text and the errors were corrected. However, the mistakes didn’t stop there. Along with misspelling Marc Victors’ name during his interview, the article was riddled with the wrong type of pole. Poll was used instead of pole multiple times.
Hell, even their link is misspelled: http://www.myfoxphoenix.com/story/24961259/2014/03/12/residents-concerned-over-mysterious-camera-in-their-neighborhodo
Many questions still remain. Thanks to Fox 10, we at least know who to file a Freedom Of Information Act (F.O.I.A.) with, and who and what to subpoena.
APS appears to be in violation of A.R.S. § 13-3019.
To be continued…
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