CPSO arrests three for heroin possession in April

The Campus Public Safety Office arrested three individuals for possession of heroin during the month of April.

The Campus Public Safety Office arrested three individuals for possession of heroin during the month of April. None of the suspects arrested were Portland students, faculty or staff, and Chief Mike Soto said that the campus statistics mirror a general trend in Oregon drug culture.

“Right now, there’s a substantial gain in use of heroin within the State of Oregon,” Soto said. “Even when compared to cocaine and other hard drugs.”

So far in 2011, Soto’s officers have made 21 arrests on charges relating to drugs or alcohol,

13 of which have resulted in charges of heroin possession.

In 2010, there was a total of 13 heroin-related charges on PSU campus. Eleven were for possession, one for suspected use and one for an outstanding warrant for possession of the drug.

The 2011 suspects have all been non-university affiliates, but Soto is quick to emphasize the potential risk and impact for students, staff and faculty.

“We often find people in campus bathrooms using this stuff,” Soto said. “Sometimes they leave their kits [needles and paraphernalia] behind, which obviously shows their intent to come back. While these people are mostly hurting themselves, this isn’t entirely a victimless crime. We often find that users hide their kits in the toilet seat cover dispensers, where any innocent person could reach in and get poked by a syringe.”

Soto said there are further risks for his officers.

“We have to protect the community, so we engage these people,” Soto said. “They are not always compliant and reasonable, they can fight my officers on occasion. I’ve had officers poked by needles while searching suspects.”

CPSO data indicates that 50 percent of the heroin possession arrests in 2011 have taken place in or around Smith Memorial Student Union, though the Distance Learning Center, Lincoln Hall and Montgomery Court have also seen multiple arrests this year.

Science Building 2 has also been the site of increased drug activity throughout 2011. This follows the implementation of a coded entry system for ground and basement level restrooms in Science Building 1, formerly a hot spot for drug activity, Soto said. The added security measures followed a dramatic discovery in one of the building restrooms.

“Some months ago we found a deceased overdose victim in one of those restrooms,” Soto said. “There you have another impact on our community, not just for the victim, but also for the person that goes through the trauma of finding their body.”

One place that the use of heroin and serious narcotics does not appear to be a statistically significant problem is in student housing, where Soto said drug arrests are somewhat infrequent and almost always related to marijuana.

While the PSU non-affiliates face prosecution only under Oregon statute, PSU students, faculty and staff are subject to the added punitive component of the university judicial system, according to Soto. This is independent of any findings state or federal court systems may determine. Many of the student housing drug investigations stem from confidential tips, which originate with the CPSO anonymous reports form, available online.

Soto said instances of theft increase in tandem with drug charges, with construction equipment being a particularly vulnerable target. PSU Facilities and Planning were asked to comment on theft and damage to campus facilities in 2010 and 2011, but declined.

Statistics provided by CPSO indicate that arrests for heroin possession occur throughout the calendar year, steadily, with slight peaks during the winter months. In what remains of 2011, each additional heroin-related arrest on campus represents an increase over last year’s figures, which have been equaled as of press time.

The most recent arrest occurred in Science Building 2 on April 22. ?