Oh woah! CPSO and other important safety acronyms

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One of the Emergency Blue Light phones on campus that alert CPSO when pressed. Photo by Roosevelt Sowka/PSU Vanguard | Illustration by Aaron Osborn

Portland’s crime rates were in decline earlier this year, according to the Oregonian. Some people even move here because they hear that bike theft is one of the top-most crimes, and the least of most people’s worries. But shit happens, and as an incoming student, it’s important to know where Portland State stands in terms of safety.

Campus Public Safety Office:
Phone: 503-725-4407
Address: 633 SW Montgomery St.
Emergency: 503-725-4404

PSU has its own police force available for emergency response, safety escorts and patrol services around campus 24/7. They can arrest anyone involved in illegal activity on campus. Some of them drive, some of them walk, and one of them has a cool European accent. The team is lead by Chief Public Safety Officer Phil “The Zerz” Zerzan.

What’s all the buzz about? If you’re new here, you’re going to hear some buzz about CPSO. That’s because up until last year, PSU was the only public university with more than 15,000 students that didn’t have an armed police presence.

PSU gave the go-ahead to deputize CPSO last June, and bring in a team of armed officers, despite a lot of outrage on behalf of the student body. Deputization gives CPSO certain authority to respond to riskier situations, and the deputization has also helped quicken response time to assaults on campus. Alternatively, in the wake of so many national police-violence tragedies, a good amount of PSU’s increasingly diverse population don’t feel safe about the decision. Since 2014, the PSU Student Union has been organizing actions against the decision.

“Right now we’ve got the largest, most diverse incoming freshman class in PSU’s history, and suddenly the cops have guns,” one student told the Vanguard last year. “And for those of us in [PSUSU, we] don’t see those as disconnected.”

Keep in mind:

CPSO are “responsible employees” and must take action if you inform them of any crimes like assault that you may experience. If you become the victim of a sexual assault and wish to talk to a confidential advocate, head to the Women’s Resource Center in Montgomery.

If you’re on campus and find yourself in an emergency situation, you can use one of the Emergency Blue Light phones on campus to alert CPSO at the push of a button (locations are listed on our map, pg.14).

CPSO officers wear body cameras, and not all are sworn and armed.

Other safety resources: Check out pg. 17 for more information!

Women’s Resource Center: Located outside Montgomery, the WRC has resources and confidential advocates for victims of sexual assault or domestic and dating violence.
CONTACT: 1802 SW 10th Ave., 503-725-5672, [email protected]

Student Health and Counseling:Located on Southwest Sixth Avenue next to McDonalds, SHAC has counselors available for mental health crisis and students have free access “to a 24/7 nurse advice line dedicated to PSU and staffed by registered nurses who can also assist students in determining what their best course of medical attention should be,” according to their website.
CONTACT: 1880 SW Sixth Ave., University Center Building, 503.725.2800 for general questions, 1-844-224-3145 for 24/7 advice.

Disability Resource Center: 503-725-4150
Queer Resource Center: 503-725-9742
Veterans Resource Center: pdx.edu/veterans/vrc
Office of the Dean of Student Life: 503-725-4422
C.A.R.E. Team: pdx.edu/dos/care-team
Student Legal Services: 503-725-4556

PSU Vanguard crime blotter: Who was that eye-patched man shouting in Russian outside Smith last week? How many people got popped for doing heroin in your favorite PSU parking garage?! You need to know, and we have answers. Weekly, we publish a crime blotter that details reported crimes that occurred on campus throughout the last week.

Get Involved

On-campus groups like Student Alliance for Sexual Safety and Disarm PSU have conversations about safety on campus. In years past, Chief Zerzan has held Coffee With the Chief, where he brings students free coffee and snacks to discuss safety. The WRC has plenty of volunteer opportunities as well.

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