University has real debate about arming campus police

10/10/2014: Of course I’m not talking about UO. Our debate consisted of Frances Dyke lying to us and the state legislature about how it would save money. Now Portland state is considering doing the same. Their administration is a little more honest than Johnson Hall and estimates the cost at $1.5M a year. Melissa Blinder has an excellent report in the Oregonian, with many disturbing quotes from UO students:

Before Patrick Kindred walks the quarter-mile to class on chilly days, he considers what could be an important question: To wear a hoodie, or not to wear a hoodie?

It’s not because the temperature is unpredictable. It’s because he’s black, and there are now armed police officers patrolling the University of Oregon’s Eugene campus.

Kindred said he’s terrified of police, and housemates at his predominantly black fraternity share his concerns.

“We talk about it. If we’re in a group, how man of us will there be? What are we wearing?” said Kindred,  a 22-year-old native of Portland.

Now, male African American students at Portland State University say they worry they’ll face similar issues if the urban university proceeds with creating its own sworn, armed police force.

…  Phil Zerzan, Portland State’s chief of campus public safety, said he doesn’t understand why minority students worry about being profiled if his department transitions to a sworn police force.

The university would have control over hiring, training and holding officer’s accountable, he said. The force would be integrated with the university’s resource centers and would be subject to the school’s equity policy.

Zerzan said Portland State has an opportunity to get policing right.

“How about not having racist cops?” the chief said. “How about having a culture and an organization that doesn’t allow that?”

10/8/2014: Time to get rid of University Police Departments

“For Safety’s Sake”, in the Chronicle, here. UO’s Mike Gottfredson gave our police guns, a wildly inflated budget, let them get away with the “Bowl of Dicks” list, and then did his best to keep them out of the loop about the basketball rape allegations. Chief McDermed didn’t even know the EPD investigation was done until she read about it in the RG. Now two Criminologists propose eliminating university police entirely. Their argument? You can’t trust university administrators with this kind of power:

Overlooked in the debate about whether colleges are pursuing sexual-assault allegations seriously enough, however, is the fact that college police departments are often responsible for investigating crimes that occur on, and sometimes even off, the campus. No other American institution enjoys the power to create and maintain a police force. Not even Fortune 500 companies or your local public high schools have the legal authority to create their own standing police departments, with full arrest powers and a slew of weapons, even armored personnel carriers.

That is a problem, because campus police departments are under the immediate control or influence of college administrators. This relationship compromises the hallmark principles of American jurisprudence: objectivity, fairness, impartiality, due process, and, most important, freedom from political interference in matters of law enforcement.

In fact, some of the biggest changes in American policing have been those dislodging police departments from the corrupting influence of political control. Yet on American campuses, political control of campus police departments—control often extended to presidents, provosts, even deans—is normal and expected.

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17 Responses to University has real debate about arming campus police

  1. allisduckie says:

    The surplus or deficit just says how well they budgeted, right? I’d be curious what the cost side has looked like in recent years.

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  2. Trickortreat says:

    I remember the school working very hard to sell their new police department on a cost savings basis. I just can’t believe anyone fell for it. Take a look at what some of the employees are making. How many new police cars have been bought? How much is the bowl of dicks list going to cost the school in time and money and lawyers paid? How much is it going to cost the school if one of the cops makes a mistake and shoots the wrong person? I have seen awards in the tens of millions for shootings and violating rights in the news and I saw one for $24,000,000.

    The school can longer afford this and other bloating. The numbers I’m seeing for the police department over the years are atrocious. FY15 already shows them -$496,018.02 in the hole. FY12 was very healthy with +$240,034.46 in the budget. FY09 shows a +$16,477.28 balance.

    Between FY09 and FY15 the police budget has soared to nearly double and most of it is for administration. Once a department sets this sort of financial trend over this period of time there is generally no end in sight. I thought this change was sold on the premise that it would save the school $10,000.00 each year. Guess not.

    If there is a lawsuit and the police department loses then the school must pay whatever a jury awards. Can anyone really imagine the school having to pay something like $24,000,000 in damages on top of all the other legal fees?? Bring the EPD back to our school. Enough is enough.

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  3. andy says:

    This article is nothing but hysterics. Someone who is afraid to wear his hoodie? By his own admission, he has had no problems, he just doesn’t like police “hanging out” on campus. Didn’t know being around students was a bad thing for Campus Police to do. Didn’t UO MATTERS and other commenters want to see the police more involved with the community? Being accessible, able to help at a moments notice, around to be a deterrent to crime, and hanging out on campus!?!?! How horrible it must be. Maybe just let EPD take campus back. They will show up when they can, and if it is 3 days later, no big deal. Crime reports can always be made online. Much easier than walking up to a campus police officer and reporting it. Grow up! Stop whining!

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    • anonymous says:

      “Someone who is afraid to wear his hoodie?”
      Spoken like a true white guy…

      [Editor: Remember, don’t feed the trolls.]

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      • andy says:

        When you have no real response, make assumptions and attack the poster. Troll.

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  4. Thom Aquinas says:

    Does anyone have the most recent campus crime statistics at hand? I don’t find them, but it is my recollection that there was no significant change in crime stats since the creation of the UOPD (including sexual assault). Has there been any improvement or did it just stay about the same?

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  5. Dr.Funkenstein says:

    I’m no fan of this UOPD stuff, and I’m former LE. That’s probably why.

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  6. Leporello says:

    I noticed a UOPD patrol vehicle driving around last night without any lights on. This was around 12:20 AM, and the vehicle in question looked like some kind of large white golf cart on steroids. It did say UOPD, painted on the very bottom of the door. It was on 15th and had just gone around the corner, turning from University St onto 15th, heading east. It did not stop at the stop sign!

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  7. Nobody says:

    The problem I see with UOPD is that if you’re a student who is a victim in a crime that is going to result in a lawsuit against the school can you really expect a fair and impartial investigation? Likely not. You cannot count on UOPD to stand up to JH. If the UOPD chief of police has to choose between their fat paycheck and the right thing you can be assured they will choose their paycheck. Administrators have it drilled in their head that the institution comes first. Don’t count on the police owned by the institution to help you when their leash is pulled by the same institution.

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  8. airborn says:

    If anyone ever thinks for a single second that the uopd chief is in charge you are living in a dream. Johnson hall firmly controls the direction of the campus police and do not think for a second that it does not. Does anyone actually believe that uopd would ever be able to investigate a crime committed by someone in the upper administration?? No because we all know it would have the rug pulled out from under it by those in johnson hall. I say let the county sheriff police campus and get rid of the bloat and the clear conflict of interest that exists. This change to police has not saved any lives and it will certainly only bleed money. I would like to see how many bike and traffic tickets they have issued since becoming police and just how much it has really cost since it was advertised as a way to save money which is utterly ridiculous.

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    • Thom Aquinas says:

      Your point is exemplified by the recent bypassing of the UOPD regarding the gang-rape allegations of the basketball players. Why do we have a police force if they are not involved, but apparently even actively EXCLUDED from such investigaions by the administration?

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  9. anonymous says:

    “Not even Fortune 500 companies or your local public high schools have the legal authority to create their own standing police departments, with full arrest powers and a slew of weapons, even armored personnel carriers.”

    Neither one is true. Many school districts have their own police departments (thankfully none in Oregon so far) and so do railroads (4 of which are Fortune 500 companies).

    The school district police departments have acquired the same toys as other police agencies too.

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  10. please let this come to pass says:

    This is so true. So very true.

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  11. Dog says:

    at many public institutions, which are therefore part of
    some state government, the University police is a branch
    of the State Police. This has always made sense to me and I don’t really understand why places like UO and UW are allowed,
    as state institutions, to have a private and independent police force.

    Maybe someone from the law school can provide enlightenment on this.

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  12. nobody says:

    I can get 100% behind any effort to turn back the pd into public safety again!

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  13. F&@king Clueless says:

    This is an excellent point. Too bad we all weren’t more clear about this when it was being ramrodded through approval processes.

    We should add to the reasons that this is a bad idea the fact that College administrators are often barely qualified to run a large organization of any kind, much less oversee a police department.

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  14. Anonymous says:

    I would feel safer without UOPD.

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