SEATTLE -- After a 21-year-old culinary student named Nicole Westbrook was killed in a random drive-by shooting last year, Seattle police had an idea for trying to identify the white sedan involved.

They wanted to check for any photos snapped by red-light traffic cameras nearby.

But state law bars the red-light footage from being used for any purpose other than proving traffic violations. Changing that is a top priority of the state prosecuting attorneys association in Olympia this year.

Officials say it's rare that police need the information, but when they do it's usually a big case.

A bill that's been introduced in the House would allow them to get it with a search warrant.

But the American Civil Liberties Union of Washington is opposing the measure.

Legislative director Shankar Narayan says allowing police to use the cameras for purposes other than the intended one would be a step toward a surveillance society.

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