In a move that could stir up visions of an Orwellian-style government surveillance state, recently published government procurement data revealed the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) have purchased an undisclosed number of covert surveillance cameras hidden inside streetlights to place around the country.
Its unclear where or when either agency has or will install the devices however, the documents reveal the DEA has paid Houston, Texas-based company Cowboy Streetlight Concealments LLC roughly $22,000 since June 2018 for “video recording and reproducing equipment” while ICE paid roughly $28,000 to the same firm over the same period of time.
Christie Crawford, a police officer who co-owns the company with her husband said she wasn’t at liberty to discuss her federal contracts, but told Quartz things are always being watched and that if government or law enforcement has a reason to set up surveillance, there’s great technology out there to do it.
“We do streetlight concealments and camera enclosures,” Crawford told Quartz. “Basically, there’s businesses out there that will build concealments for the government and that’s what we do. They specify what’s best for them, and we make it. And that’s about all I can probably say.”
In addition to concealed streetlight cameras, the DEA has also placed hidden covert surveillance cameras inside traffic barrels and the agency operates a network of digital speed-display road signs that contain automated license plate reader technology within them.