After two years of dialogue, planning, debate and protest, the Board of Trustees voted to approve the University Public Safety Department Management and Implementation Plan, which will guide the introduction of armed campus public safety officers to the Portland State campus.
The university’s governing body voted in favor of implementation in a 9–3 vote on June 11.
The vote was met with protests from students, staff and community members, some of whom carried signs that bore the names of victims of police shooting deaths.
Newly elected Associated Students of Portland State University President Dana Ghazi and Vice President Davíd Martinez asked that the vote be delayed to allow for more time to consider alternative solutions to improve campus safety, but the request was denied.
This vote means the Campus Public Safety Office will continue its move to become a bifurcated force, with both unarmed public safety officers and armed and sworn officers.
According to the resolution approved by the Board, “[w]ork with the Department of Public Safety Standards and Training (DPSST) has ensured that a Campus Police Sergeant, two Campus Police Officers and the Campus Police Detective are currently certified and authorized to serve as Police Officers, meeting all of the training and qualifications required to begin service effective July 1, 2015.”
In preparation for implementation, equipment for four sworn officers has already been obtained, including body cameras, body camera data management, firearms and level III security holsters.
The resolution also outlines the oversight committee, the complaint process and training policies, which include specialized training on issues like cultural competency and the use of non-lethal force. The university will also be required to present semiannual reports to the Board on implementation and campus safety.
After the Board meeting, Ghazi and Martinez released a statement in response.
“We did not succeed in postponing the vote,” the statement read. “[W]hile we always knew it would be a difficult case to make in such a short timeframe, we feel strongly that it was an effort worth taking in light of the many concerns we heard from students.”
The statement expressed appreciation for trustees’ input throughout this process.
“We also recognize that this was not an easy decision, with three trustees—including both the student and faculty member—voting against the plan,” Ghazi and Martinez wrote.
Ghazi and Martinez’s statement included their plan to be actively involved as the implementation process advances.
“Moving forward, ASPSU will be playing an active role in the candidate selection process for campus safety’s new oversight committee and will continue to listen to all student perspectives on this issue while working towards a smooth transition,” they said.
More information on the approved resoulution can be found at pdx.edu/fadm/iac-resources