Task Force on Campus Safety Recommends Sworn Police Officers at PSU

Almost a year after its initial convening in April 2013, Portland State’s Task Force on Campus Safety released a report on Feb. 26 of its findings in regard to improving campus public safety.

In their report, the TFCS found that sworn police officers who are connected to PSU are integral to the best model of campus public safety at the university.

“The Task Force believes the most ideal campus safety staffing model is one that allows PSU access to dedicated professionals, who are part of the PSU ethos and community, who have sworn police officer status,” said the report.
The first recommendation of the task force is to obtain availability to sworn officers who will be dedicated to the PSU campus.

“PSU should explore ways to ensure access to sworn officers who are…appropriately trained in campus policing and available on-site to the PSU campus community,” the report stated.

The TFCS report recommended this action due to the discovery of the following findings in their research: “1. PSU must make reasonable efforts to address known safety concerns; 2. Perceptions of safety may be misleading; 3. There have been improvements with campus policy development; 4. The complexity of PSU’s daily operations has increased; 5. The complex nature of campus law enforcement is changing with increased service demands; and 6. Resources allocated to CPSO and campus safety in general have not kept pace with the level of growth.”

Campus Public Safety Office Chief Phil Zerzan was grateful for the time and energy put into the report by the TFCS.

“I am appreciative of the effort and thought that went into understanding the complexities and challenges of modern campus policing,” he said.

Other recommendations made by the TFCS in the report regarding CPSO include CPSO maintaining non-sworn CPSO officers to continue providing regular campus safety duties, PSU creating a permanent committee to give a continuous review of campus safety needs and best practices, and CPSO leadership providing safety presentations and other educational events during events such as student orientation.

Recommendations were also made in regard to access control on campus, as well as safety awareness and emergency preparation.

PSU President Wim Wiewel appointed the task force last year in response to discussion about transitioning PSU’s CPSO to a law enforcement agency with sworn police officers. The TFCS met over six months to analyze “the challenges of improving response time and making security more effective across [PSU’s] 50-acre campus,” according to PSU’s website.

The full task force report is available to download at pdx.edu/insidepsu/the-future-of-campus-security. A link listed on the webpage allows PSU community members to give feedback on the TFCS report, and an all-campus forum will be held on April 30 to discuss the options that the report suggests. Its time and location will be announced at a later date.