new Office of Security

10/9/2010: Update, the DPS budget for 2006-2011 is here. Up a bit more than 100% *before* the costs of converting to a sworn force.. The whole of the College of Arts and Sciences, for comparison, is up a bit less than 50%.

Apparently DPS is having a hard time spending all the money Frances Dyke has been giving them, even after buying those bitchin 130 MPH Police Interceptors and SUVs. So now Director  Doug Tripp is creating an “Office of Security”. The Director of Security job announcement is here, complete w/ phrases like “university security council” and “identify issues impacting internal security functions”. With staff, this new office should be able to burn an easy $500K per year. Why does this make me feel less secure about UO’s future?

No guns yet

9/28/2010: In several recent posts I’ve said or implied that the Dyke-Tripp proposal is to create an armed UO police force. This is wrong, and an informed reader clarifies:

 … the proposal on the table is to have the DPS officers elevated to the status of police officers WITHOUT arming them with deadly force. In other words, the proposal for create a police force on campus is separate from the idea of arming them with guns and/or tasers.  If the current proposal to create a campus police force is approved, arming of the police force will occur only if a separate proposal is approved by the OUS Board (or a UO Board if the New Partnership Proposal is adopted). Either way, there are no  current plans to arm DPS officers with deadly force even if the Police Officer upgrade is granted by the state legislature.

Thanks. I assume this means they would get Tazers to go along with their 130MPH Police Interceptors. We still haven’t seen an explanation for the recent 110% increase in the DPS budget, or an estimate of the cost of the police force proposal, or an explanation for why it has risen to the top of UO’s legislative agenda, just behind the UO restructuring plan. This is not the place to be spending money or political capital.

Facebook Riots

9/27/2010: Mat Wolf of the ODE has a story on Friday’s riot. Remember all those stories about how computers and texting make our students withdraw from reality? Never mind – turns out somebody organized a party with facebook and it got out of control, the cops were called, and now it’s the latest UO video to make it big on youtube. Fortunately no one was seriously injured, unlike the episode below from UCF a few years ago, involving an armed university police officer engaged in an undercover anti-tailgating action:

Look carefully, the plainclothes UCF officer in the green shirt is pointing a gun at a student, and behind him, that really is a man in a sombrero with his hands in the air. I know what you are thinking: this is why university police need guns, to deal with out of control drunken students in sombreros. What could possibly go wrong? Well, read the news report:

A cell phone video showed the confusion in the moments leading up to the shooting as plain-clothes Officer Mario Jenkins is seen alone in a rowdy crowd of tailgaters at the Citrus Bowl. Moments after that, Jenkins pulled out his gun and fired it at one of the tailgaters. Then Jenkins was shot by Orlando Police Officer Dennis Smith, who had no idea Jenkins was a UCF officer. Jenkins’ supervisor admitted to having let him go into the crowd without backup, even after telling Jenkins he needed backup.”It was an error,” said UCF Police Chief Richard Turkiewicz. “Major Mingo was distracted over paperwork.”

The officer was killed. And what happened to UCF Police Chief Richard Turkiewicz, who oversaw this pre-emptive strike on the tailgaters? UO VP Frances Dyke hired him as UO’s interim DPS Director. No shit.

From the ODE story on the UO situation:

ASUO President Amelie Rousseau condemned EPD’s response to the event, and said she believes that the use of weapons against students was an uncalled-for escalation of force, and identified it as “crude and disproportionate.” She also said that she believed the incident has affected her views on whether or not DPS should adopt a sworn and armed police force pending the passage of state legislation. “I think this should make all students and the University administration think twice about bringing this type of intimidation on to campus.” Rousseau said, “This is exactly why we don’t want a police force on our campus.” DPS was not involved with Friday’s incident.

Intimidation or not, I agree that this incident shouldn’t drive any knee-jerk decisions on converting DPS to a regular police force.

Riots

9/26/2010: I’m hoping that the Friday night freshman riots don’t turn into a regular event. I also hope that  DPS does not attempt to use them as a reason for yet another big budget increase. 110% in 6 years, while crime rates are decreasing, should be enough. So long as they don’t blow it on tricked out 6-pack pickups and 130 MPH “Police Interceptor” cruisers. Whoops, too late.

UO Police Department memo from Frances Dyke

9/15/2010: Despite the steady national, state, and local declines in property crime and violent crime (reported in recent front page stories in the RG and the Oregonian), and the continued decline in state support for UO, it turns out that Frances Dyke has authorized some pretty serious and expensive efforts to convert UO Department of Public Safety to a UO Police Department.

DPS Director Doug Tripp points us to his helpful website at http://safetyweb.uoregon.edu/campus-policing, on this topic, which includes this memo from VP for Finance Frances Dyke:

Whenever the academic side asks for more resources for teaching and research, UO administrators have a stock answer to close down the discussion: “Where do you want us to get the money?” In six years the DPS budget has increased 110%, and a Police Department is going to cost far, far more. For example, the draft legislation includes the creation of a police academy for university officers:

(7) Clarify the Department of Public Safety Standards and Training’s responsibility under ORS 352.385(2) to train university public safety officers [special campus security officers] such that an annual basic university public safety officer academy is established and that DPSST will certify those officers upon successful completion of such training.

So, has anyone asked Frances where the money is going to come from for all this? What was her answer? Why is she in charge of decisions about university priorities?

Why UO needs police with guns?

9/10/2010: From a Sports Illustrated column:

… a national study in 1995 that examined the campus police records and internal judicial affairs records at 20 Division I institutions, most of which had top basketball or football programs. Among other things, we found that male student-athletes comprised 3.3 percent of the total male population, yet represented 19 percent of the perpetrators reported for sexual assault. Things don’t appear to have changed much since then. Women were the alleged victims in at least 22 of the 125 arrests involving basketball and football players so far this year. That’s almost 20 percent. Most of these — 14 — involved domestic violence.

But there are costs as well. We wrote before about how UO’s former DPS Director had organized an anti-tailgating raid at his previous job that led to the shooting death of one of his armed officers by city police. Here’s another case:

The University of Florida has spent nearly $88,000 following the shooting of a doctoral student by a campus police officer – and that’s just the costs of hiring a defense attorney to represent the university, paying an outside firm to conduct reviews and providing six months’ salary to the fired commanding officer at the scene. Those costs represent the initial phase of the case, which ended Wednesday with the UF Police Department’s release of its internal affairs investigation and decision to not renew the contract of the commanding officer, Lt. Stacy Ettel. The next phase could be more expensive, including a possible settlement or civil judgment awarded to the student, Kofi Adu-Brempong.

Now the police officer is suing UF too. Meanwhile UF has settled with the graduate student for an undisclosed sum. He was a polio victim who used a cane and had delusions of persecution. The consultant charged UF $55,000 to recommend they try mandatory counseling next time.

University police with guns + drunk students = shots fired, Officer killed by regular police.

8/31/2010: (Updated with new budget info and below with sombrero photo and details.) A commenter asks about the move to convert the current DPS into an armed campus police force. Greg Bolt’s RG story is here. Here are the budget numbers for DPS for 2005-11. (Ignore the parking numbers, those are net, after parking fee collections.)

In six years there has been a 110%, $1.7 million increase, or seven times what Provost Bean spent on his “Big Ideas” faculty research support plan. This is before all the expenses of this new plan – training, hiring, guns and ammo, etc. In comparison, the budget for the average CAS department increased by just 50% over these 6 years.

So are these spending increases related to a crime surge? No. Violent crimes in Eugene are down, they are down on campuses nationwide, and to the extent there is a trend detectable at UO it also looks like it’s down. In 2008 there were a total of 5 aggravated assaults and 8 violent sexual offenses. If there is any evidence – even anecdotal – that converting DPS officers to regular police and arming them would have made any difference in any these incidents, we haven’t heard it.

Bolt’s story includes the usual blather from Frances Dyke – why is she still making public statements for UO? – and then this, from DPS Director Doug Tripp:

Tripp said what’s different about this effort to change the law is that he and other UO officials have worked hard to make their case with students, faculty, local police and legislators before formally proposing the change. He also believes that many students now have a different attitude about campus police because many come from high schools that had armed officers, often called school resource officers, patrolling the halls.

I think it will take a bit more than this to justify this change, which will take an act of the legislature. At the moment the DPS Officers aren’t even carrying Tasers. Remember the trouble when the Eugene cops tasered a visiting Chinese student in his sleeping bag? Eugene has an entire office devoted to handling incidents like that, which inevitably lead to lawsuits, etc. Who is going to have oversight of this new UO police force? Our General Counsel? We still don’t have one. A review board of faculty and students – you want to be on that committee? Why open this can of worms? Who is pushing this idea besides Doug Tripp and Frances Dyke? Why? Has the Senate heard a report on this? Had any discussion? What are the cost estimates for it? Is there a proposal anywhere laying out the costs and supposed benefits? Any evidence that it would be better to spend money on police and guns, instead of more mental health resources for students? How can something this dubious have risen to the top of UO’s priorities for spending and legislative lobbying?

Update: A anonymous tip sends us to this cautionary story about arming university police, from the University of Central Florida:

This photo is from a tailgating party at a UCF football game in 2005. Yes, the plainclothes UCF officer in the green shirt is pointing a gun at a student, and behind him, that really is a man in a sombrero with his hands in the air. I know what you are thinking: this is proof why university police need guns, to deal with out of control drunken students in sombreros. What could possibly go wrong? Read the news report:

A cell phone video showed the confusion in the moments leading up to the shooting as plain-clothes Officer Mario Jenkins is seen alone in a rowdy crowd of tailgaters at the Citrus Bowl. Moments after that, Jenkins pulled out his gun and fired it at one of the tailgaters. Then Jenkins was shot by Orlando Police Officer Dennis Smith, who had no idea Jenkins was a UCF officer. Jenkins’ supervisor admitted to having let him go into the crowd without backup, even after telling Jenkins he needed backup.”It was an error,” said UCF Police Chief Richard Turkiewicz. “Major Mingo was distracted over paperwork.”

The officer was killed. And what happened to Chief Richard Turkiewicz, who oversaw this pre-emptive strike on the tailgaters? Frances Dyke hired him as UO’s interim DPS Director. No shit. Shortly after that, Daily Emerald reporter Ryan Knutson won a prize for this expose of DPS spending priorities:

The former interim director of DPS, Richard Turkiewicz, told three officers last summer they couldn’t attend a $120 training session on finding non-violent resolutions to encounters with people with mental health issues. …

But Turkiewicz approved spending $1,826.50 on himself and $1,554.99 for another manager to attend a four-day parking and golfing conference in Tampa, Fla. in May 2007….

Frances Dyke, vice president for finance and administration, approved Turkiewicz’s trip. She declined to comment on the trip or Turkiewicz’s need for attending, but did say that “directors can’t neglect their own professional development because they won’t stay cutting edge if they do.”

Despite Frances’s efforts to keep her DPS director on the cutting edge, UO didn’t promote Turkiewicz to the permanent job, instead we fired him and hired Kevin Williams, from the LAPD. Williams didn’t last long either, and no one in charge wanted to explain why. From the ODE article by Hannah Hoffman:

DPS details under wraps; Dyke cites privacy laws
University will not release details of Williams’ transfer, Tripp’s promotion 

When the University gives an employee a new position but does not renew his or her contract, essentially firing the employee, the administration has virtually no obligation to explain why to the public. This was evidenced during the recent shift in the director of the Department of Public Safety. On March 9, Doug Tripp became the director and Kevin Williams, who had held the position since August 2007, was transferred to a different department. The administration announced the move only in an e-mail to staff, faculty and administration.

Frances Dyke wants to give them guns, but she is not going to explain why we hire and fire the DPS Director. She is not even going to answer questions about their spending priorities. With Ms Dyke still in charge, transparency and oversight are always going to be a problem at UO. She doesn’t trust her own judgment and decisions enough to explain and defend them. Neither do we.