Campus Public Safety Chief Michael Soto hosted the Meet the Chief Forum on Wednesday in the Smith Memorial Student Union. Other than the Vanguard staff, no students attended and Soto said that the forums have been averaging about one or two students since he began them. Students, community members and faculty are encouraged to attend and have the opportunity to learn about campus safety resources and discuss safety topics with Soto.
Campus Public Safety Chief Michael Soto hosted the Meet the Chief Forum on Wednesday in the Smith Memorial Student Union. Other than the Vanguard staff, no students attended and Soto said that the forums have been averaging about one or two students since he began them.
Students, community members and faculty are encouraged to attend and have the opportunity to learn about campus safety resources and discuss safety topics with Soto.
Soto is in his sixth year as head of Campus Public Safety, and he noted that he began holding the forums as a way to be more accessible to the university community. In addition, the forums also allow Soto to communicate his focus of getting students involved in participating in campus safety.
“Our biggest crime-prevention employee is the community,” Soto said.
Soto said there are 14 officers on staff, two of which are Community Service Officers. The Community Service Officers’ main responsibilities are to perform duties such as escorting students and helping them with access to buildings, Soto said.
The staff also consists of dispatchers, an auxiliary program for students and volunteers, as a result of the university’s partnership with Jobcore. Students participating in the auxiliary program and the volunteers from Jobcore are primarily used for event monitoring, as well as observing and reporting safety concerns. “They are our eyes and ears,” Soto said.
Soto also said that the Meet the Chief Forums are a result of a survey taken by students in 2006.
“The message we received [from the survey] was that people wanted access and immediate ability for safety officers to enforce laws,” Soto said. As a result, he explained that safety officers now have direct access on their radios to the Portland Police Department and the 9-1-1 network.
Recommendations from the survey also helped spawn the Emergency Management Unit in October 2007, Soto said. In combination with the PSU Alert System, Soto said that emergency management and notification has improved at Portland State with the new additions such as alerts by text messages and e-mail.
New procedures and partnerships with the Portland Police Department have also been established to help respond to threats, Soto said.
Soto noted that additional policies might be on the horizon as a result of a campus focus group report that was completed in March of this year. According to Soto, focus groups met on all of Oregon’s universities, including private universities and community colleges, throughout 2008.
The reports were then forwarded to Gov. Kulongoski’s Board of Campus Safety Task Force, and recommendations from the task force will be forthcoming before the end of 2008.
Meet the Chief Forums occur every third Wednesday of each month. To learn more about the Campus Safety Office, including information about the student auxiliary program and courses offered by Soto’s staff on campus familiarization, visit them on the Web at www.pdx.edu/cpso.