Oregon State University to Start Own Police Force
The Corvallis campus currently contracts with the Oregon State Police for law enforcement services, which will end June 30.
Oregon State University (OSU) will establish its own police department within the school’s Department of Public Safety, the Board of Trustees unanimously voted Friday.
The decision came after four community listening sessions in March and from research done by the school’s Public Safety Advisory Committee, which was assembled by OSU President Ed Ray, reports The Corvallis Advocate.
The Corvallis campus currently contracts with Oregon State Police (OSP) for law enforcement services. That agreement will end on June 30 and the campus will transition to its own police department by July 1. The university has started the process to recruit, hire, train and equip licensed law enforcement employees.
In October, OSP announced it was ending its contract with the school due to a staffing shortage. OSP has been the primary provider of law enforcement services for the campus since the 1980s. As part of the contract, OSP provides the university with one lieutenant, one sergeant, 10 troopers and two administrative staff.
Ray said OSU’s relationship with the OSP has been “wonderful” overall but that there have been issues from time to time, according to The Corvallis Gazette-Times. Bringing law enforcement in-house would contribute to a better public safety culture on campus, he added.
“They (the state police) don’t report to us, so when we see a problem, we have very little ability to get them to function the way we expect them to function as part of our community,” he told the board. “I think we’ll actually get better and more consistent service from any given number of police officers.”
The university currently has a public safety department made up of approximately 40 employees, including officers and support staff. The new police department calls for hiring an interim police chief and 14 sworn officers. The officers will be armed and will have the power to make arrests. They will also have uniforms and vehicles that differ from other DPS employees who do not carry guns.
Paul Odenthal, associate vice president for finance and administration, said there would be upfront expenses for purchasing vehicles and other equipment. The long-term cost should be comparable to the OSP contract, he added, which was expected to cost $4.8 million over the next two-year budget period.
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