CMPD body cameras hit streets Wednesday

CMPD body cameras hit streets Wednesday
(Brody O'Connell | WBTV)
(Brody O'Connell | WBTV)
(Brody O'Connell | WBTV)
(Brody O'Connell | WBTV)

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department introduced body cameras in a press conference Tuesday morning, saying the department is on schedule and ready to deploy the cameras in the Metro and Providence Divisions.

Major Steve Willis showed off his body camera and said officers have started training and will be ready to use the cameras on Wednesday.

A total of 85 body cameras were issued in the Metro Division on Tuesday.

"It is going to give us the opportunity to show we are doing good work and we are treating people like they should be treated," Willis said. "It is also going to level the playing field. If there is a complaint and an officer has done something wrong, it is going to give us the opportunity to do something and deal with it."

The Providence Division will begin using the cameras on Friday.

The department says body cams will allow officers to record what happens outside of patrol cars and away from dashboard cameras. They mentioned it will be helpful in cases like the fatal officer-involved shooting in North Charleston.

"It is going to be in the back of their mind and in some cases that is not always a bad thing. That is part of what our training is going to be," Willis said. "Just because the camera is there capturing evidence does not mean that we want you to delay taking the appropriate level of action to protect yourself or another citizen."

Major Willis told WBTV Installation and deployment of body cameras to the remaining CMPD patrol divisions is scheduled for September or October of this year.

According to CMPD, the body cameras will be used to record almost every interaction an officer has with a citizen.

"Essentially, it is any type of interaction with a citizen," said Willis. "Any type of calls of service where weapons are involved or violence is involved, we expect the officers to turn the camera on."

The cameras will be used to record traffic stops, arrests, suspicious vehicles or persons, disturbances, police chases and other types of service calls.

Copyright 2015 WBTV. All rights reserved.