Discuss: Expand red-light cameras to help solve murders?
King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg and Seattle police want to view footage from red-light cameras to help solve the murder of Nicole Westbrook, the 21-year-old gunned down in Pioneer Square in April.
My view? Go ahead. Footage from cameras placed in storefronts, bank lobbies and other areas of the public domain are reviewed routinely. When you remove money from your ATM smile, a camera is there.
But Washington's red-light camera laws expressly forbid footage from being used for any law enforcement activity other than traffic infractions. The tight restriction was embedded in the law to mollify critics who used allusions to Big Brother to argue against red-light cameras.
I don't think people are afforded the same privacy rights on a public road that they arguably should have in their homes.
This weekend a woman was shot to death at a party, five others were injured. Police are in that familiar mode of asking anyone who saw anything to step forward. What if there was a camera at a nearby intersection that might have captured the fleeing suspects. I'd want law enforcement to be able to view the footage. They should be allowed to approach red-light camera footage similar to the way they access phone records and emails of suspects: with more than a reasonable suspicion and a court order.
Should police have access to red-light camera footage or not?
Achenblog by Joel Achenbach
Postman On Politics