PSU keeps armed officers

Portland State Interim President Stephen Percy announced at a Board of Trustees meeting campus public safety officers would remain armed on Oct. 10, 2019. 

Percy detailed his campus public safety plan at the Board meeting, which included an increase in unarmed safety officers and no change in the number of sworn and armed officers. 

The plan was introduced after a campus-wide debate following the death of Jason Washington in 2018. On the plan, Board member Margaret Kirkpatrick said “It is the president’s role to manage campus public safety, and it is the Board’s role to hold the president accountable.”

The announcement CPSO officers would stay armed came a year and four months after the death of Washington, a Navy veteran shot nine times by Campus Public Safety officers on June 29, 2018 at the Cheerful Tortoise, a bar located near campus. 

The death of Washington marked the first fatal shooting involving campus public safety officers since CPSO was armed in 2014 and led to the creation of the #DisarmPSU movement by students and community members.

“We continue to grieve his death as a community,” Percy said at the Board meeting. 

#DisarmPSU expanded as months passed without a conclusive decision from the Board, and members occupied the CPSO office, held rallies in the park blocks and took the issue down to Salem as the Board remained inactive. 

An independent assessment conducted by Margolis Healy released on Feb. 22, 2019, found that of those sampled, 52% were in favor of disarming PSU’s campus police. 

The report, referred to as an “extensive review” at the Oct. 10 Board meeting, recommended retaining armed officers despite the opinion of the majority sampled in favor of disarmament and has been heavily criticized by members of the PSU community. 

Interim president Stephen Percy will hold a press conference after the Board meeting about his comprehensive campus public safety plan, which does not require Board action to enact. 

This is a developing news story.