SEATTLE, Wash. - After a 21-year-old student, Nicole Westbrook, was killed in a random drive-by shooting last year, Seattle police had an idea for attempting to identify the white sedan involved.
Officers say they wanted to check for any photos taken by red-light traffic cameras nearby.
However, state law bans the red-light footage from being used for any purpose other than providing traffic violations. Changing that law is a top priority of the state prosecuting attorneys association in Olympia this year.
Police say it is rare that police need to information, but when they do it is usually an important case. A bill that has been introduced in the House would allow them to get it with a search warrant.
However, the American Civil Liberties Union of Washington opposes the measure. Legislature director Shankar Narayan says allowing police to use the cameras for reasons other than the intended purpose would be a step toward a "surveillance society."