Thursday, September 20, 2012

Are those cameras and who's watching on McKnight Road?

Have you ever looked on the stop and go lights and see all the attachments they have on them.  Some look like over sized light bulbs.  You may also see a small round item with clear plastic on the bottom of it.  More than likely this is a surveillance camera.

On September 6, 2012, I was on the corner of Lower Afton & McKnight Road.  I noticed on all four stop & go lights there were long tubes like cameras or something similar such as that attached to the overhangs over the street.  There was one on each overhang facing oncoming traffic.  So for example, if you were heading south on McKnight, the overhang would have the equipment facing you coming from the north on the south side of the intersection.  The local governments that intersect or could be responsible at that location are St Paul, Maplewood, and Ramsey County.

With license plate readers in the news and my own interest on privacy matters in regards to surveillance I decided to do a data practices request of those local government law enforcement agencies to find out what they may be.

" I wish to inspect and review all government data related to the use of those cameras-equipment or what ever kind of instruments it is on the corners/intersection of McKnight & Lower Afton Road."

The responses were as follows:

"SPPD does not have cameras or other instruments at Lower Afton and McKnight.  You may want to check with traffic control agencies like MN DOT."

"The Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office does not have any equipment as described deployed, or any activities involving such, located at the intersection of Lower Afton & McKnight Road. From your description of the equipment I would make inquiries with agencies involved with traffic control. Since McKnight Road is the borderline of the cities of Saint Paul and Maplewood, and McKnight is a County Road, your inquiry could possibly include the Ramsey County Public Works Department, City of Maplewood Public Works, City of Saint Paul Public Works, or Minnesota Department of Transportation. If the equipment is actually deployed by law enforcement you may want to make inquiries with the Police Departments of the cities of Saint Paul and Maplewood."

"Maplewood has nothing to do with the devices you mentioned.  Our public works director does not think they are cameras but vehicle detection devices to trip the semaphores.  You can contact Ramsey County Public Works to ask them."

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