Surveillance

Oregon Lawmakers Approve Use of Traffic Cameras for Surveillance

Wide range of crimes will be prosecuted with images

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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.