UO Matters reporter Nick Ekblad, on armed UOPD

2/20/2013: UO Matters needs extra reporters to cover everything that’s going down. UO student Nick Ekblad has agreed to report on the armed UOPD public meetings, and he’s got a knack for asking questions:

Q: What is your current budget?

According to the UOPD budget guy: “Our general fund budget is $4 million and another $1 million additional funds so $5 million operating budget. We anticipate no increase in our budget through the end of the transition.

Which means that VPFA Jamie Moffitt is blowing 2 science startup packages a year to pay for armed police and SUV’s, for a campus with ~0 serious crime. 
Ekblad’s full report:
UOPD Interim Chief Carolyn McDermed and Captain Pete Deshpande met with members of the community today for coffee for an informal conversation about the arming of UO police officers. There were no donuts.
About 15 people unaffiliated with the newly named UO Police Department were present in the EMU Walnut room. These are some of the questions asked by about five different people and the answers provided by McDermed and Deshpande.
        Question: What sort of public input would convince you to not arm?

Police Chief McDermed: “There are several factors in this decision [to arm] and public input is one. We want to get as many people in here to see what they think. And then we’ll look at campus safety factors. And then the president will get all this information and may decide to make a recommendation to the State Board of Higher Education and it will be them that makes that decision. If I could hear a solid argument that the University doesn’t want this, it would be: ‘We don’t want your department to provide these services,’ you know, the ones we are currently limited from doing.”

McDermed, on current limitations: “There are several limitations we have now, one of them is not being able to transport people in custody. Another is traffic stops. We have a traffic safety issue on campus, and we can’t ask officers to do traffic stops because of the safety risks. And then, investigations off campus. We could be in the middle of an investigation of a crime that occurred on campus or involved a student– we can’t go off campus to contact the suspect or do follow up investigations and we have to rely on EPD to do that. What’s important to us might not be their highest priority. And then of course, most importantly, when dealing with any sort of critical situation where armed response is needed, UOPD will have a much faster response time given our special knowledge of the area.”

Captain Pete Deshpande then added, “There was a domestic violence incident last night and we had to respond peripherally and wait for Eugene Police Department to respond because that’s just a highly hazardous situation to ask an officer to respond to.”
        Q: Could you explain how being armed allows you to do traffic stops?

McDermed: “There’s so much danger involved in walking up to a car you are unfamiliar with. You are at a disadvantage when walking up to a car. There’s a lot of things to consider, but one very important one is: Can you see their hands? Body language. Are they agitated? Are they upset? Eugene Police Department lost an officer to a traffic stop. You just never know. You can’t predict. You have to be prepared. Captain Deshpande and I have never had to shoot anyone, and we don’t want to.”
        Q: How much time is spent walking or biking versus driving?

McDermed: “It’s important to us to be approachable and not just be driving around in a vehicle. But the reality is that we have over 300 acres of campus to cover. We can do core campus easily on a bicycle, but places like Autzen or Barnhart/Riley areas or even the Baker center downtown, are more difficult to get to on a bicycle. So we have to find a balance in being approachable and engaging with people and then being able respond quickly. Basically, our cars are our offices.” 
        Q: What’s your wait time if an officer makes an arrest for an EPD unit to respond and take the arrestee to jail?

McDermed: “Sometimes it’s been a minute, sometimes it’s been two hours.

Deshpande: “And sometimes, they aren’t able to respond at all. So the person is cited and set loose instead of being arrested.”
        Q: What’s the average response time for Eugene Police Department when they’re called to campus?

McDermed: “The average response time for calls in the last year was over 24 minutes. Response time is critical.”

Deshpande: “Our officers know all the intricacies to campus. I can attest that we’ve got all kinds of underground tunnels and nooks and crannies, our officers can respond much quicker than another agency.”
        Q: Is EPD in favor of UOPD arming?

McDermed: Yes. Chief Kerns is very understaffed and the Department feels that we will be able to help them.

Deshpande: “Actually Lane County Sheriff’s Office and the District Attorney both are in favor.”
        Q: Will you be training with rifles and shotguns as well? 

McDermed: “We have no current plans to do that right now.”
        Q: And you’re required to go to the range four times a year?

McDermed: “Four times per year and two of those times we recertify qualification.” 
        Q: Would you consider training more often, maybe every couple months?

McDermed: “I don’t foresee that. I don’t know that we would go to the range more often. But there are defensive tactics that we will train in addition to firearms. Things like holds, commands. There is a range of training that we do to stay qualified.”

 

        Q: As of now, if there were an active shooter situation, would you be able to respond?

McDermed: “No. We could not respond, if fact we could not even hold a perimeter on the campus because of officer safety issues. The best we could do is guide EPD in via radio.”
        Q: How effective would Glocks be for an active shooter situation?

McDermed: “The best practice they have out there, and this happened at Virginia Tech, is for the first available officer to respond. Campus officers were the quickest to respond. They didn’t arm themselves with special rifles. And it was the pure knowledge of police responding that ended the incident.” 
        Q: How many officers armed per shift?

McDermed: “The current plan is to have 25 police officers and 10 security officers on campus. And because we have three shifts a day seven days a week, that adds up to 21 officers. So there’s only going to be three maybe four officers on duty at any given time depending on the time of day, day of the week and any special considerations for events. …We will also have security officers performing functions that you don’t need a police officer to accomplish. We are hiring seven security assistants that are students, that are patrolling, doing observe and report things, escorts and that kind of thing on campus, have a visible presense as well.” 
        Q: How will you be recruiting officers?

McDermed: “Shortly we will be posting available positions for more police officers. Campus policing is specialized, so the selection process will look for these specialized skills. But everyone will have the same requirements, including testing, background check, character check. Current public safety officers can compete for the police officer position.”
        Q: Once you select people how long is training?

McDermed: “16 weeks of academdy training then 16 weeks of field training. Then there is a probation period. The first five weeks of field training is spent riding along with EPD.”

 

        Q: What’s the salary range of a police officer?

McDermed: The salary range is comparable to other law enforcement agencies in the area, we don’t want to have to train them and then lose them to other departments. So the salary will be comparable to other agencies like Eugene Police, Springfield Police, our county sheriff’s office and Oregon State Police.

David Landrum, UOPD Director of Administration: “We have a pretty good sense of salary range. It’s going to be very comparable to the local jurisdictions. We won’t know the final number until the classified officers are under a collective bargaining agreement. They would not be able to fall under the current SEIU contract.”
        Q: What is your current budget?

According to the UOPD budget guy: “Our general fund budget is $4 million and another $1 million additional funds so $5 million operating budget. We anticipate no increase in our budget through the end of the transition.

Search update: UO Police to get guns after sham public hearings

Updated: Here’s the list of people on the search committee for the new UO Police Chief:

Andre LeDuc, Chair
Donna Laue
Greg Rikhoff
Margaret Paris
Mike Eyster
Nick McCain 
Pete Kerns
more on this search here.

That’s my take from this appropriately skeptical Colton Totland story in the ODE. 2/4/2013. Jamie Moffitt’s Police Interceptor Crown Vic fleet is already fitted out with mounts for this bad boy:

Can’t we all just get along, perhaps with a compromise along these lines?

Guns, and Jamie Moffitt searches for new Police Chief

Ad here. Anyone know who’s on this search committee? The inside candidate is Pete Deshpande. Ms Moffitt’s non-explanation of why she suddenly fired Public Safety Director Doug Tripp is here. Tripp apparently has a new job in Florida, which will should save us $90K or so on the year’s severance pay. And the latest transparency update from police.uoregon.edu is here – it’s from Francis Dyke, in Jan 2010. Brings back some memories, that does.

Last I checked UO was paying its public safety director more than the City of Eugene was paying its Police Chief Pete Kearns. Presumably the push for guns will yield another big raise. No worries, Moffitt has plenty of money for this sort of stuff, and is happy to spend it if it will make her job easier. Just don’t ask her to help pay the startup for some physics professor.

Will UO arm the new police? I think it’s inevitable. Read this 2011 report from the University Risk Management and Insurance Association. It boils down to this:

  • yes, armed police means a risk of a lawsuit if your police shoot someone
  • but unarmed police means a risk of a lawsuit because someone gets shot buy a disgruntled graduate student whom armed police could have stopped
  • there’s no clear evidence as to which risk is greater, but most campuses our size have armed police
  • in a lawsuit, the “everyone else is doing it” defense carries a lot of weight

1/31/2013.

UO Police try out new pro-gun argument

11/26/2012: Expect a rash of these stories from their public affairs office over the next few months. Now that Kitzhaber’s put a moratorium on the death penalty, I’m all for locking up bike thieves. The easy fix would be to change the rule that prevents the UO cops from transporting perps to the lock-up. But instead they seem set on using this incident as one more reason why they just must have those Glocks:

Update: The Jack Moran RG story on this incident seems to imply that even if UO had armed police able to transport the thief to the Lane County lock-up, he might well have been released anyway, as had happened before. I’ve got these questions in to UOPD spokesperson Kelly McIver:

1) What is the text of the rule that prohibits unarmed UOPD from transporting prisoners to the Lane County Jail?
2) What prevented the UOPD from detaining this person until armed EPD were available to transport him?
3) If this person had been transported to the Lane County Jail, would he have been locked up, and if so how long would it have likely been for?

I’ll post the answers.

Campus police officer kills unarmed student

10/7/2012: The explanation for Friday night’s shooting at the University of South Alabama is still unknown, but it seems likely the student would still be alive if not for the fact that the campus officer was armed. And we’ve posted before about an earlier campus shooting at the University of Central Florida. A campus officer, in plainclothes, fired a warning shot after being harassed by students during an attempt to curb drinking at a football game. He was then shot and killed by a city policeman who didn’t know he was police. Incredibly, the UCF police chief who set up this botched operation was then hired by Jamie Moffitt’s predecessor Frances Dyke as UO’s interim DPS Director. I’d thought he was the first of four DPS directors in a row to leave UO without explanation, but it turns out the history goes much farther back – see this Oregon Commentator issue from 2000. But I’m sure our administration has all the kinks worked out now.

Prof Nicols says no to armed campus police

10/3/2012: I can think of many ways the $1 million or so cost of the conversion to sworn (and apparently soon to armed) police could have been better spent. But apparently our administrators cannot. This letter to Pres Gottfredson is posted with permission of the sender:

Dear President Gottfredson 

I want to register my concern for what I consider a dangerous transition to an armed police force. 

I am in matters of public safety conservative and believe that officers do need to be properly quipped to deal with a dangerous world, but I have never bought the argument that a university police force needs to be armed.  Indeed, it is most effective when it can act as an intermediary between the university and the community.  That advantage, and it is one that serves the interests of both the university and the the community, would be seriously compromised or lost if the UO officers start to carry weapons. 

I have had regular appointments at many universities in the US and in Germany, and most function quite well by cultivating a good relationship with the local police force, but they do not try to duplicate efforts. 

I do realize that many higher administrators must be telling you otherwise, but if you listen to the faculty you will quickly come to see that there are many among the faculty who have very significant reservations about the course and costs of this transformation.
Indeed it is very hard for me to see any advantage that an armed ‘police’ force would bring.  Moreover, I [and I believe others] see many disadvantages and costs that will accrue from such a decision. 

J Nicols: Professor Emeritus  of History and of Classics 

One particularly good anonymous comment:

I do not think that the discussion should be about sworn police officers vs. public safety officers. UO had for years sworn police officers on campus and there is still a college station for the Eugene Police Department on 13th Steet. UO just did not extend the contract with EPD a couple of years ago and now the administration pretends that there is no way back. (I am pretty sure UO can sell the new SUVs to our old police friend who sold us the used Ford police troopers a while ago.) 

The question is whether UO should have this “in-house” with full responsibilities, oversight, and risks or contract with well-experienced law enforcement entities providing sworn officers on campus. OSU does not have a sworn university police department. But their Public Safety department has a contract with Oregon State troopers for these extra services on campus. OSU has no intention to change it. Why does UO? Is UO so much more in danger? Comparing UO to other PAC12 schools with University Police such as UW, UCLA or Berkeley is just silly. 

Frances Dyke told UO and Salem that in-house security could do the job for less money (but not substantially less). I think we can at least question this given the tremendous investments in cars/trucks, new and additional leadership, new “street credible” uniforms, training, guns, etc. — and UOPS’ proposal for a bomb sniffing puppy. I am pretty sure campus’ security could even increase with a UO SWAT unit but such a unit has a substantial price. (I hope that this does not add something to their shopping list.)

Whenever I saw one of the new SUVs or the 4×4 I wanted to take my key and scratch “I could have been a dissertation fellowship” into the paint. (Something I would never do to any other car!) These expenditures are just a pure provocation for anybody who cares about affordable education, support for faculty, (graduate) students and staff, and academic infrastructure. It appears as nothing else than pure rent seeking by UOPS. 

I would appreciate if there would be an update about the “cost savings” that were promised (if Frances Dyke “lied” she should apologize in public to UO and Salem) and if there were any other motives — covering up weed smoking athletes/students in the university neighborhood, subsidizing the athletics department by providing in-house security at sports events instead of costly EPD/county officers, increasing some egos of the leadership, or improving the relationship with EPD because of “rowdy” undergrads in the university neighborhood by covering the area. All these motives might be taste but at least there would be a rationale for the nonsense and money burning. It may make the provocation a bit more bearable. 

Otherwise the UO admin should just stop the nonsense and gain some credibility – providing resources for UO’s mission.

Campus crime wave drives UO Police spending, guns, SUV’s

9/28/2012: Just kidding, there’s no detectable increase. From the UO Clery Act report. But spending on the UO Police, now that’s way, way up. Read our VPFA office’s attempts to rationalize that here. If Bean had grown spending on TT faculty or grad students at this rate we’d have a shot at staying in the AAU. But security for the Jock Box and Matt Court ain’t cheap:

What’s this really about? Nina Bernstein, reporting in the NYT last year, has some reasonable suspicions. And then there are the less expected costs of having a campus police force. From the WSJ: UC Davis Reaches $1M Settlement with Protestors over Pepper Spray. For a contrast, remember how well UO handled our own Occupy situation, with civilians in charge?

Third straight DPS director leaves under weird circumstances.

Update: Wondering how DPS managed to increase spending from $2.8 million in 2010 to $4.0 million in 2012? Financial Transparency reports here.

A few days ago the RG had a story on the $2.8 million budget for security at the Olympic trials, $500,000 of which came from an emergency state appropriation. Then our DPS Director resigns the day before it starts, effective immediately?

I do not believe this email from Jamie Moffitt. If there are legitimate reasons for keeping things secret, then at least tell us you can’t tell us the whole truth. The UO administration has zero credibility on DPS now.

Sent: Thursday, June 21, 2012 10:20 AM
To: Deans-Dirs List (deans-dirs@lists.uoregon.edu)
Subject: deans-dirs: Campus Communication

Message on Behalf of Jamie Moffitt, Vice President for Finance and Administration

Campus Communication

Doug Tripp, executive director of the UO Department of Public Safety and chief of police, has informed me of his plans to return to the Midwest in order to move closer to his extended family.  Given the importance of the University’s police department transition plans, Chief Tripp has stepped down from his leadership role so that the University of Oregon can select a permanent replacement who will see this transition through to completion.  I have asked Carolyn McDermed to serve as interim executive director and interim chief, effective immediately, while a national search is conducted for a permanent police chief.

Until Chief Tripp secures a new position in the Midwest region, I have asked him to serve in an advisory capacity, assisting me with specific issues related to police department transition planning.

I want to thank Chief Tripp for his years of service to the UO.  He has been instrumental in helping define and lead the transition from a campus public safety department to a sworn police force.  We wish him well in his future endeavors and appreciate his current effort to ensure a seamless leadership transition for the department.

In addition to running the department’s day-to-day operations, Interim Chief McDermed will be tasked with continuing the University’s police transition until a permanent police chief is named.

The University of Oregon remains dedicated to implementing a community-oriented and trust-based policing model that addresses the unique safety and security needs of UO students, faculty, staff and visitors.  The staff of the Department of Public Safety has shown a strong commitment to these ideals and I know that they will continue to deliver on that promise under Interim Chief McDermed’s able leadership.

Jamie Moffitt
Vice President for Finance and Administration & CFO University of Oregon
541-346-3003
jmoffitt@uoregon.edu

While just 8 days ago, this:

From: deans-dirs-bounces@lists.uoregon.edu [mailto:deans-dirs-bounces@lists.uoregon.edu] On Behalf Of Kathy Warden
Sent: Wednesday, June 13, 2012 11:31 AM
To: ‘deans-dirs@lists.uoregon.edu’
Subject: deans-dirs: Campus Update on Police Department Transition

Sent on behalf of Jamie Moffitt –

To: UO Deans & Directors

From: Jamie Moffitt, Vice President for Finance and Administration and CFO

Subject: Campus Update on Police Department Transition

Last year both the legislature and the State Board of Higher Education approved the transition of our campus security department into a police department.   The University officially established the UO police department on January 1, 2012 and several officers have now been commissioned and sworn as police. These police officers have the same authorities as others in the state and are required by Oregon law to clearly identify themselves as police. For this reason, you will soon notice University of Oregon police officers in new uniforms on campus. http://dailyemerald.com/2012/06/11/dps-police-officers-to-wear-new-uniforms/.

The UO police officers will have the same equipment currently carried by UODPS public safety officers. During the next academic year, the university will host a variety of campus discussions about the issue of arming campus police. These discussions will allow for broad participation by students, faculty and staff. After those discussions and no earlier than Spring 2013, university leadership will make a recommendation to the state board of higher education on whether to arm our police.

Please visit police.uoregon.edu to learn more about the UO police department transition. Also, if you have questions, we’d love for you to join us at an informal “Coffee with the Chief” that we will be hosting later this summer. This will be the first of many opportunities for campus community members to meet with our Police Chief to further discuss the policing transition.

Please share this with others in your department who may be interested.

###

Full-auto now, oversight later

4/24/2012. UO has put out an RFP to add dual mounts for AR-15’s and shotguns to the DPS Crown Vic Police Interceptor fleet – so far as I can tell they haven’t actually bought the assault rifles yet.

I’m sure there will be those in the physics department who will argue for something with better HEAT capability, but I for one salute our Johnson Hall Officers of Administration for preparing to send our public safety officers out into campus armed with this full-auto classic before bothering about the still incomplete oversight process for DPS.

Speaking of the need for police oversight, read this amazing Atlantic story on the Davis pepper-spray attack:

Despite the lack of clarity of the legal basis to remove the tents, the UCDPD operation plans for both November 15 and November 18 stated that camping was not allowed on campus and that tents would not be permitted… A few hours before the operation commenced, Chief Spicuzza, Lieutenant Pike and OfficerP sought legal advice regarding the laws that apply to camping on the UC Davis campus… This call was apparently placed because of the Lieutenants’ continued concern over the legal basis for removing the tents, and the police operation was commenced only after this last-minute call.

The legal advice given in that call was kept secret from the independent investigators. But the Kroll report undertook its own analysis of the relevant laws, and found that each one cited by UC Davis administrators and police to justify their actions didn’t apply. They failed to press “for a definitive legal assessment of the scope of its authority to order the removal of the tents,” the report concluded. “Kroll has been unable to identify the legal basis for the decision of the Leadership Team to act against the protesters… It appears that the UCDPD mounted its operation absent the clarity of legal authority under pressure from the Administration to do something to get rid of the tents.”

Note how infinitely better UO’s leadership handled our own Occupy situation, without armed police. So why do we want this now?

Thanks to one anon reader for the DPS xerox, and another for the Atlantic story. please keep this stuff coming. 

City’s legal bill $419,000 in arrest

3/26/2012: From the RG:

The total legal costs — $419,000 — dwarf the $5,583 in damages that a jury awarded Schlossberg in January, after deciding unanimously that his constitutional rights were violated by Solesbee during a March 13, 2009, encounter in front of an Umpqua Bank branch in downtown Eugene.

Part of the cost of having a police force, as UO will soon learn. Meanwhile we’ve posted an ad for a new Police Captain:

Police Captain, Safe Campus Team
Department of Public Safety

Open until filled; priority review of applications begins April 17, 2012
The University of Oregon in Eugene seeks an experienced, senior, commissioned law enforcement professional with superlative people skills and leadership ability to fill the position of Police Captain with the Safe Campus Team at the Department of Public Safety (UODPS).

Doesn’t sound cheap. And rumor has it they’ve also hired a $10,000 a month consultant. Meanwhile DPS Director Doug Tripp – already paid more than the Eugene police chief – is in Salem for 4 months, going through basic Oregon police academy training.

Frances Dyke told the campus – and Floyd Prozanski and the state legislature – that the conversion to sworn police would cost UO almost nothing. She lied. Will new UO CFO Jamie Moffitt come clean on this?

First they came for the guns,

but I kept silent, because I did not own a gun. Then they came for the cell phones …

OK, maybe that is a little over the top even for UO Matters. But it’s motivated by an interesting ODE Becky Metrick story about a fist-fight on campus, and what may be one of the first arrests since UO Public Safety converted to a sworn police force:

Amin’s teammate and brother Abdul Tufa had been recording the arrest with his phone. Shortly after Amin was placed in the police car, DPS forcefully confiscated Abdul’s phone, claiming they wanted the recording on the phone as evidence of the fight and arrest.

The UO Police confiscated a student’s phone after he recorded them making an arrest? Is that legal? Should it be? Note that the video also apparently included the original fight. A reader sends along this youtube video on the importance of cell phone cameras when dealing with the police. 3/8/2012.

UO police is not about money or guns

3/2/2012: It’s about power. Nina Bernstein reported on this in the NYT back in November:

On most of these campuses, law enforcement is the responsibility of sworn police officers who report to university authorities, not to the public. With full-fledged arrest powers, such campus police forces have enormous discretion in deciding whether to refer cases directly to district attorneys or to leave them to the quiet handling of in-house disciplinary proceedings.

The UO administration is refusing to allow the committee set up to monitor our new police to even call itself an “oversight” committee. They hate that word.

So, imagine some football player gets arrested by the UO police for, say, stealing a student’s laptop because it has pictures of him doing bong hits on it. Who will decide whether or not to report this to the Lane County DA for prosecution? Doug Tripp and his direct boss, Jamie Moffitt? The UO President? After consulting with whom? Does anyone know the answers here?

Thanks to Portland blogger Jack Bogdanski for the link and the reminder of our earlier post on this.

UO police will cost UO 5 to 15 professor slots

3/1/2012: That’s my guess. Last year Doug Tripp and Frances Dyke told the faculty – and the legislature – that campus police were going to save UO $73,000. And you wonder why Johnson Hall has negative credibility. Here are the last ten years of DPS spending, from the Financial Transparency Banner tool:

2002-03                        $1,607,012
2003-04                        $1,612,250
2004-05                        $1,733,536
2005-06                        $1,789,688
2006-07                        $2,427,713
2007-08                        $2,166,847
2008-09                        $3,073,604

2009-10                        $2,831,690
2010-11                        $3,811,421

2011-12                        $4,287,098

$2.6 million, growth over 10 years, nearly tripling their budget. But now that the conversion to sworn police is starting, things are really going to get expensive. Word down at the Baron’s Den is that UO has hired a $10,000 a month consultant (a retired Eugene police captain) to plan how to spend all that money. Becky Metrick of the ODE has some news on the 6 year plan that is being put together. That will be an interesting budget to see.