CHARLOTTE, N.C. – It is not just city police officers patrolling the streets using body cameras anymore.
Campus police departments around the country are suiting up with the mini cameras. In North Carolina, Wake Forest University began using the technology in 2011. Duke University equipped its officers with body cameras at the start of school this year. Now, UNC-Charlotte is training its force to use the cameras.
"It is all about accountability and building trust," said UNCC Police Chief Jeffrey Baker.
The UNCC Police Department purchased 42 body cameras at $300 each. The department calls it an investment into the safety of students and officers.
"When you talk about UNC-Charlotte, we are talking about a community with some 30,000 in it on a given day. So we have a very large, small city right here," Baker explained.
Training sessions were underway Wednesday afternoon at the campus police headquarters to get officers prepared to wear and use the body cameras. They will be required to hit "record" every time they engage with the public.
"I think it would just make it safer here on campus," said UNCC freshman Dakota Cook.
"It has been an evolutionary process as far as police departments go, and it is something we wanted to make sure we were out in front on," said Baker.
So far, students have been supportive of the technology.
"That means we are moving forward as a university and as a society," said Tamirah McGill, a UNCC junior. "We are starting to see there are problems and we are trying to fix them."
McGill says she isn't aware of any problems on campus, noting how friendly UNCC officers have been in the past.
"I haven't seen any corrupt cops here, but they are still necessary because students need to feel safe, too," McGill elaborated.
McGill says she is troubled by the violent confrontation between a school resource officers and student at a Columbia high school and she doesn't want to see anything like that on her school's campus.
"What if something like that happens here? We would need cameras so they would feel that they shouldn't do something like that," McGill asserted.
UNC-Charlotte Police will begin wearing the body cameras next week. It is the first UNC campus to adopt the technology.