Portland State Delays the Disarming of Its Campus Safety Officers

Although PSU officers will no longer carry firearms, they will continue to be sworn officers with investigative and arrest capabilities. They will carry Tasers.

UPDATE NOVEMBER 2, 2020:

PSU won’t be able to meet it’s goal this fall of transitioning from armed to unarmed pubic safety officers. The delay is due to three officers either retiring or resigning, said PSU President Stephen Percy in a statement. The department needs eight sworn officers so at least two officers are on duty during every shift.

Additionally, the change from armed to unarmed officers is forcing the department to change many of its policies.

“We are unaware of any other police agency in the nation that has shifted from armed to unarmed patrols by sworn officers,” Percy said. “Agencies across the country are contacting us wanting to know how we are going about creating this new reality. The shift requires updating hundreds of policies and procedures related to CPSO. The work is currently undergoing internal and external legal review. When the review is completed, the updated policies will be submitted to the University Public Safety Oversight Committee for approval. ”

ORIGINAL AUGUST 18, 2020 ARTICLE:

Portland State University (PSU) campus safety officers will no longer carry guns when they are on patrol.

The announcement that was made on Thursday cited the ”disproportionate impacts and unacceptable loss of life that policing has on Black people and people of color,” as its reasoning for the change in policy.

“Over the past few weeks, we have listened to many voices across our campus,” PSU said in a statement. “The calls for change that we are hearing at PSU are ringing out across our nation. We must find a new way to protect the safety of our community, one that works to dismantle systemic racism and promotes the dignity of all who come to our urban campus.”

Although PSU officers will no longer carry firearms, they will continue to be sworn officers with investigative and arrest capabilities. They will also carry Tasers. When armed response is required, the Portland Police Bureau will provide assistance.

“We will still protect our campus. We will still provide police services. We will have police officers available. We will have them here, but they will be unarmed.” said Willie Halliburton, PSU’s new campus safety chief.

Since the in-custody death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, the city of Portland has experienced continuous protests against police violence and systemic racism, and students have been lobbying PSU to disarm its officers for several years, reports OregonLive.com.

“I’m not asking other departments to follow our lead,” Halliburton said. “All I know is that at Portland State University, we need to heal, and this is the first step of healing.”

Additionally, PSU will create the Reimagine Campus Safety Committee. The new group will be guided by the school’s “commitment to providing a campus environment that is free of racism, celebrates the diversity of our community, and honors our dedication to human dignity,” the announcement said. “The committee will assess how to keep our campus safe without relying on officers carrying firearms. The committee also will be asked to provide innovative solutions to an array of safety and security needs, including providing basic security and assisting those who are in crisis.”

The new committee, which will be comprised of members that reflect the racial ethnic and ideological diversity of PSU, will make recommendations this fall.

About the Author

Robin Hattersley Gray
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Robin has been covering the security and campus law enforcement industries since 1998 and is a specialist in school, university and hospital security, public safety and emergency management, as well as emerging technologies and systems integration. She joined CS in 2005 and has authored award-winning editorial on campus law enforcement and security funding, officer recruitment and retention, access control, IP video, network integration, event management, crime trends, the Clery Act, Title IX compliance, sexual assault, dating abuse, emergency communications, incident management software and more. Robin has been featured on national and local media outlets and was formerly associate editor for the trade publication Security Sales & Integration. She obtained her undergraduate degree in history from California State University, Long Beach.

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10 responses to “Portland State Delays the Disarming of Its Campus Safety Officers”

  1. Tim Hall says:

    This type of behavior is out of control. You are taking sworn police officers and taking tools away from them in order to appease the masses. What happens when there is an active shooter on campus. With PPB’s resources dwindling, facing cutbacks and officers leaving in mass, how long do you think the response time will be. In active shooter situations, time is essence. Another thing is that the university may be open to civil liability as well. Sworn police officers are trained in the use of deadly force in every academy around. They are trained in the use of firearms. What happens when these campus officers are unable to respond to an active threat? They will need to rely on outside agencies to assist, and if someone is injured or killed before an armed response arrives, do we think that the family will not sue for failure to protect. Glad I don’t live or work anywhere near these cities that are choosing to cave in to the liberal hype.

  2. E. Nash Garrett Sr. says:

    So how does the officer protect him/herself with an armed suspect? Waiting for Portland Police Bureau to provide assistance? Really? I surely hope and pray no officer(s) don’t get shot or killed as a result of you disarming your officers. Can you say LAWSUIT?

  3. PoliDoc says:

    This will make the university as safe as the streets of Chicago! “Controlling” cops’ guns will stimulate the sale of black badge bands! I fear for them and the students with inadequate protection.

  4. George says:

    What a crock! So in an active-shooter situation, the campus security officers have to rely on a non-lethal device with an effective range of 10 feet. Well, at least Covid-19 social-distancing standards will be met.

    Regarding multiple threats, maybe the officer can have them take a number and wait their turn, in order to give him time to put another cartridge in the Taser.

  5. Archie Washington says:

    I would sincerely hope that you rethink your position on this matter Chief Halliburton. You have effectively limited the level of protection that your officers can provide. Remember sworn officers have a duty to take action in the face of deadly force threats directed at themselves or others. Disarming your officers will not fix the underlying so-called “systemic” issues regarding confrontational encounters between officers and members of Brown and Black communities. The issue is about “Respect”. From both sides. The officers that run into problems need to learn that everyone they encounter initially deserves to be treated with respect and courtesy regardless of the color of their skin. Even when they are being arrested. Deescalation and talking someone down when they are agitated is key when dealing with unarmed suspects. Train your officers to take their time. Don’t pour gasoline on a fire. Use physical force only when absolutely necessary. Before they forcibly throw someone down on the ground give that person the chance to cooperate. And above all else remember that your firearm is not a tool of apprehension. In my twelve years assigned as a supervisor of an NYPD narcotics unit in the 90’s my team made close to 5000 arrests with “zero” excessive force complaints using this method. Why, because we treated people with “respect.” Train your officers to understand that their most powerful weapon is between their ears not in their holsters. But there comes a time when they may need that firearm to meet the threat of deadly physical force and you will regret it if they are not ready.

  6. Really Mad says:

    Has it occurred to anyone, any singe person of reason, that simply submitting to the arrest vs. physically fighting the police, would also result in “no loss of life”?

  7. Terry Delmonaco says:

    This “chief of police” is a disgrace to the uniform that has caved to radical groups like Antifa and Black Lives Matter and should leave town with his tail between his legs. Portland is a liberal dump and this is a direct reflection of that. This is totally disgusting on many levels.

  8. Terry Delmonaco says:

    Exactly.

  9. Ken says:

    So now the criminals are dictating to the police how they should run their departments, and the police are rolling over and abiding.

  10. Chris Harper says:

    I think they are waiting to implement the change because of the mass exodus of officers who are going to be leaving what is now a security department to back to work for a real police department. Very unfortunate that they have let “feelings” get in the way of protecting people. It’s going to be horrific to see the crime rate sore in that environment when violence happens and there are massive delays in response because they are waiting for an outside agency to respond. Who is going to go through a full police academy and want to work as a security officer? Since one of the most dangerous activities in law enforcement are domestic violence and traffic stops, I guess they won’t be doing either. It is unfortunate that people will have to pay the price for this kind of foolishness.

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