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.