Oregon Lawmakers Approve Use of Traffic Cameras for Surveillance

Wide range of crimes will be prosecuted with images


Red light cameras and speed cameras will be used to prosecute vehicle owners for dozens of new offenses in Oregon if Governor John Kitzhaber (D) signs a measure that cleared the state legislature on Tuesday. The state House voted 53-6 and the Senate 22-8 to repeal an existing law that prohibits the use of photo radar or red light camera photographs for the prosecution of anything other than a speeding or red light-related infraction. In its place, state Representative Andy Olson (R-Albany) and Senator Floyd Prozanski (D-South Lane) said their bill would allow the cameras to prosecute "serious crime."

"There may be situations when allowing use of the photos would benefit community safety, such as when a bank robber is speeding away from the scene of the crime, and gets his or her picture taken at a nearby intersection while running a red light," the bill sponsors argued. "That photo could be invaluable in such a prosecution. House Bill 2601 would allow that photo to be used."

The Oregon legislature is going much further than Washington state,where a high-profile debate this year on expanding traffic surveillance camera ended with the decision to maintain existing privacy protections.