The decision regarding whether or not Campus Public Safety will begin arming themselves in the form of a taser has been deferred until a new vice president of finance and administration and university provost have been selected.
The Vanguard reported in February that Campus Public Safety was planning to purchase tasers in July. However, the organization has not yet actually purchased any.
Although Mike Soto, director of Campus Public Safety, had hoped to implement the taser as part of the officer’s toolbox as a continued effort to overt dangerous situations on campus, the decision has not yet been made.
“This tool could save officers and/or the community being threatened from serious physical injuries,” Soto said. “This tool can also deal immediately with the apprehension of a violent subject, sometimes just through visibility of the tool.”
Jay Kenton, former vice president of finance and administration, was taking the lead in the decision process. Kenton resigned in June to take a job at the University of Idaho.
Kenton declined to make a final decision on the taser issue before his departure.
“It was no longer [Kenton’s] decision to make. He would be impacting a university he was no longer a part of,” Soto said.
Cathy Dyck, associate vice president of finance and administration has stepped into Kenton’s position as the interim vice president until the position has been filled. The decision will ultimately be made by PSU’s entire executive committee.
“We are looking for feedback,” Dyck said. “At this point, we are not ready to move ahead.”
Feedback regarding this issue can be left anonymously in the Community Input section on the Campus Public Safety website and will be sent directly to the Chief.
Oregon Heath and Science University implemented the use of the taser two weeks ago.
“We are very similar to PSU in the fact that we are not armed. We solve situations with our wits, and sometimes pepper spray or a baton if necessary,” Gary Granger, the Director of Public Safety at OHSU said.
During the past two years, calls to OHSU’s public safety involving a potentially violent situation has increased by 127 percent. Like PSU, OHSU’s officers use the minimal amount of force necessary to gain control of the situation.
“We have not yet used it in the field. We are not going to resort to its use now, unless we can’t solve something with our wits,” Granger said. “Now we have the tools to potentially dissolve a dangerous situation without someone getting hurt.”
OHSU’s use of the taser will be on a 12-month trial basis with a review after six months at which time Public Safety will issue a report to the OHSU community. The program may be discontinued at any point based on input from the community, and recommendations from the school’s Executive Committee.
“The big question is: does the community trust us to use it appropriately?” Granger said.
Public Safety at PSU is authorized to use the first five levels of appropriate force, excluding level six, deadly force. A taser falls into the level four, physical control. The baton and pepper spray fall under level five, serious physical control.