We’ve been reporting on the surveillance cameras mounted around Short Creek and information is starting to pour in. A post by Jim Dalrymple II on the Tribune’s polygamy blog today has more information from someone with inside knowledge of the FLDS cameras, Guy Timpson, including something that jumped out at me:
Another camera sits high above the meetinghouse on a flag pole and spins 360 degrees at all times.
“We could see what people were saying just by reading lips if you were good enough,” he recalled.
Oh, very interesting. We were looking very closely at that flagpole on our last trip. I had spotted it from across town and thought to myself, that’s an excellent spot for a camera- you can see everywhere from the top of that pole. We drove over and tried to figure out if it was a camera or not but even after looking at a closeup photo of the ball we couldn’t be sure. Here is a photo of the ball, which I’ve lightened to show more detail:
And then I went back through my archive and found this photo of the Leroy S. Johnson meetinghouse from March 15, 2006. No visible cameras on this side of the building in 2006:
Okay, let’s zoom in on that flagpole:
A gold ball in 2006. Black today.
The part in today’s story that stood out to me was this:
He said that 25 or more cameras are positioned in the FLDS’s Leroy S. Johnson meetinghouse. Among other things, he said they can zoom in to see what people are writing or as close as “a spot on their faces.”
Note: A photo I took in 2007 that matches this 2006 shot does shows that a camera had been installed above the doorway.
Whenever I’m down in Short Creek covering polygamy stories, I’m always on the lookout for any insight into the FLDS world. The FLDS followers of Warren Jeffs have basically shut themselves off from the world, especially people like me. Not only am I a journalist, but even worse, a photographer. I don’t think you can get any lower. So since no one in the FLDS faith will talk to me or agree to be photographed, I’m always looking for any hint into their world.
We were driving past the FLDS meetinghouse in Colorado City when I noticed the sign in the doorway. I had photographed the sign before. It just prohibits recorders, phones and weapons. But now there was a slip of yellow paper attached to it. What did it say? Was it something new to learn about the community? We pulled over to check it out.
You can’t get close to the building; the meetinghouse and its large parking lot are private property. So I brought out my longest telephoto lens for a shot across the long parking lot. I clicked off a couple frames and pulled one up on the camera’s LCD screen. After zooming in, I saw what the yellow note said, an amazing discovery:
And so we learn one more thing about the FLDS. You read it here first. They exit the building from the south! Shocking news!