Allow Use of Traffic Camera Footage to Investigate Crime in Washington State

Target: Washington State Senator Adam Kline

Goal: Don’t restrict use of vital traffic camera footage to investigate major crimes.

In 2005, Washington became one of the few states to prohibit use of traffic light footage in police investigations. Videos from red-light monitoring cameras in Pioneer Square may contain vital information regarding two recent fatal shootings, but officials have their hands tied. The law should be changed to allow access to these videos for police investigations.

Recently, a young woman was fatally shot in a drive-by shooting at a busy Pioneer Square intersection. Later that month, a man was killed while driving his family through the same neighborhood. Both crimes took place within view of traffic cameras. These are two of over 35,000 major crimes that take place every year in Seattle alone. Crime is a serious issue for Washington State residents, but our police force is being denied a valuable tool in the pursuit of justice.

Currently, traffic footage can only be used for its original intention, which is to enforce red-light violations. The law restricting use of the footage was enacted in response to privacy concerns. The cameras are filming public places, however, where privacy has never been expected or guaranteed. To deny authorities the opportunity to capture dangerous criminals is a far greater threat to public safety than these unfounded privacy complaints. Furthermore, the use of the footage would be properly regulated by requiring the use of search warrants.

Senator Adam Kline is from the 37th legislative district, which encompasses the area of Pioneer Square where these crimes recently took place. Ask Senator Kline to fight for legislative reform that will allow use of traffic camera footage in police investigations.


Dear Senator Kline,

Washington is one of very few states that don’t allow the use of red-light-camera footage in police investigations. Across the country, these cameras have served as valuable tools in solving major crimes from theft to homicide. Recent fatal shootings in Pioneer Square remain unsolved, however, with potentially vital traffic camera footage remaining unattainable by authorities.

This restriction on use of such footage was enacted in 2005 as a response to privacy concerns. As a result, the only use the cameras can serve is to enforce red-light violations. To put concerns of privacy over public safety is unwise and irresponsible, however. It’s also worth mentioning that these cameras only monitor public places, where privacy has never been expected or guaranteed.

By challenging this restriction, you can help the authorities in our state uphold justice and protect our citizens from the thousands of major crimes committed every year. Please take action to reform the red-light-camera law in order to allow use of traffic camera footage in criminal investigations.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: 416style via Flickr.

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