Caitlyn Kaufman Interstate Safety Act paves the way for surveillance cameras on interstates

Posted at 4:50 PM, Jul 05, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-05 19:27:01-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — The death of ICU nurse Caitlyn Kaufman, who was shot and killed in December on Interstate 440, has sparked new legislation.

The Caitlyn Kaufman Interstate Safety Act took effect July 1. It gives local governments and police the ability to put recording devices, like license plate readers, along a state right of way.

When Kaufman was killed, Tennessee Department of Transportation traffic cameras were in the area, but could not be used for law enforcement purposes because of federal regulations.

"Just the idea that nobody could follow up to catch the people involved when they had the basic information was not appropriate for us to deal with," said State Senator Todd Gardenhire, R-Chattanooga.

An arrest in the Kaufman case was made a week later, but Gardenhire said it's possible allowing police to gather evidence from cameras could have sped up the investigation.

He helped introduce the legislation.

"It really was difficult to convince my colleagues," Gardenhire said.

Gardenhire said he knows some will be skeptical about permitting more surveillance.

"If we find out that's being abused we can change that," he said.

The law allows an agency only to keep video for 90 days and only to use the clips to help solve a crime.

Lawmakers expect it will be several months before any agencies take advantage of the new law.