Body cameras coming to Piedmont universities’ police departments

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ELON, N.C. -- Last year, Elon University's Police Department had four body cameras. Chief Dennis Franks said it went so well, the department has just purchased body cameras for all officers, and they'll be put into service immediately for this upcoming school year.

"I look at the body cameras as an impartial witness," Franks said. "It doesn't have an opinion one way or the other."

Elon University is just one of several universities that has recently purchased body cameras, or is in discussions to get them.

A spokesperson for Duke University said the campus's department has just bought 65 cameras, enough for every sworn officer to have one. Training on the cameras will begin next week.

UNC Chapel Hill has also purchased body cameras. It plans to use them by the beginning of the fall semester later this month.

In the Piedmont, High Point University officials said it has several body cameras but intends to buy more. A Wake Forest University spokesperson said all WFU officers have had body cameras since 2011.

But at UNC Greensboro, Chief of Police Dennis Franks said his officers do not have body cameras. He said UNCG faces a challenge private universities may not face - that of uncertain funding.

"The legislature still has not issued a budget for the state, so we don't know if we're going to get any budget cuts," Franks said. "So I don't think it'd be appropriate to dedicate money to body cameras yet."

Franks added he does hope to buy body cameras and sees them as a valuable tool.

North Carolina A&T also does not have body cameras, but hopes to secure funds to purchase some.