Behind the Scenes: First look at UNC Charlotte’s high-tech security tools

CHARLOTTE — UNC Charlotte showed Channel 9 how the university protects its students using high-tech strategies and tools.

On any given day, there are more than 30,000 people on the campus of UNC Charlotte, and keeping them safe can be challenging.

UNC Charlotte has spent millions on security since 2012.

UNC Charlotte Police Chief Jeff Baker said while he is somewhat of an old-timer in the law enforcement community, the methods the university uses are very modern.

Security cameras

“This is the future,” Baker said as he gave Channel 9′s Glenn Counts a tour of the university’s surveillance tools.

There are more than 2,000 cameras on the campus, including in parking lots and decks.

The cameras not only “see,” they are connected to analytics.

For example, police can enter a description of a suspect into the system and the technology will get to work.

“You can look at search analytics for gender, perhaps for a person, hair color, approximate age,” Baker told Counts.

Some students are comfortable with the eye in the sky and others are not.

VIDEO BELOW: Students react to UNC Charlotte security

“At the same time, it also does feel like an invasion because it’s like, why are there so many cameras?” said Raheim Hayes, a student.

“Are there cameras around? If there are, try to be in the line of those,” said Alexa Wood, a student. “Be around them especially, I feel, because if I’m walking alone as a female. That’s an important thing to do.”

License plate readers

There are also license plate readers around campus, which is helpful when searching for vehicles.

“If you go to the vehicle, we can look for vehicle colors, types, trucks, buses,” the chief said.

A couple of weeks ago a road rage suspect drove into a parking deck and chased a victim while flashing a gun.

The investigation was wrapped up in less than a day, because of the cameras and technology on campus, the chief said.

“You’re talking about sometimes days, and maybe even weeks that it could take a law enforcement agency to put together the information, and we can put it together in maybe an hour, depending on what it is,” Baker said. “When you walk onto this campus or you drive onto this campus, there is a really good chance, if you commit a crime, we’re going to be able to arrest you.”

Situational awareness

There is a program that tells officials where most students are at any given time, which can be a great help in an emergency, officials said.

“So, this is, actually, a product that our College of Computing and Informatics built for us,” said Chris Gonyar, the director of UNC Charlotte’s Emergency Management. “It gives us better situational awareness as to where are population centers and where we might need to focus resources when things happen.”

Emergency Management is responsible for getting the word out in case of an emergency.

“So, it would go to university email, text message,” Gonyar said. “We have the ability to take over all of the digital screens across campus. We do have a siren system on campus, as well, that we would activate.”

Latest incidents

There have been three incidents this month where a gun was reported on campus.

The most recent happened last weekend when police pulled a man over for a traffic stop and found a gun and marijuana in his car.

Nobody was hurt in any incident.

VIDEO: 2 charged with having guns at UNC Charlotte