Arming our Campus Police

Article by Mike Devietro:

Providing real protection for University Campuses

Recently in the Oregon house, HB 3318 was introduced which would arm campus security officers on all seven of Oregon’s public universities. Currently under ORS 352.385 campus security is in a special classification which is different than both current DPSST private security officers and sworn police officer status.

Campus security officers do have stop and frisk authority as well as probable cause arrest authority but are also limited in jurisdiction and have certain equipment and training regulations one of which is that they are currently prohibited from being armed with firearms. HB 3318 which passed out of the House Judiciary committee this past week and is not in the ways and means committee would expand the officers roles, bringing them closer to police status and also allow each campus to have 6 armed officers on duty. At least one of these officers would be on call at all times.

The bill also contains provisions which would increase officer pay and add much needed additional training, for all campus security officers. It would raise the standard of training to one that would be on par with that of local law enforcement.

This bill has obviously gotten more attention as of late since the April 16th attack on the Virginia Tech campus. However the bill was actually introduced to the House Judiciary committee prior to the tragedy at Virginia Tech.

Currently, two universities in Oregon, Oregon State and University of Oregon both have contracts with local police to supplement their campus security officers. The other five public universities have no armed presence on campus.

HB 3318 has already had its share of controversy in late April Rep. Linda Flores released a press release explaining how the Governor tried to have the bill pulled from the legislative agenda while he assembled his own “Campus security task force”. The bill finally left committee this past week with only one member, Suzanne Bonamici of (Washington County, District 34.) voting against it.

This is an important step for the Oregon legislature to take, not only would the additional training and support enhance the effectiveness of all campus security personnel it would also provide the much needed armed components for situations ranging from heated domestic disputes in college housing to more high profile incidents like that at Virginia tech.