Portland State University takes campus cops’ guns away: An open invitation for crime sprees

Barring valid justifications for and going along with all the other anti-police nonsense across the nation, Portland State University has decided to go with “disarming” its entire police force as a “campus public safety” modality. Those two quotes in the same sentence seem rather paradoxical.

On its website, the Portland State University Campus Public Safety Office avows the following comforts and criteria: “On July 1, 2015 Campus Public Safety deployed Campus Police Officers, who meet the state requirements for certification and training. Officers are also utilizing the AXON Body Cameras and a data management system is in place, consistent with Oregon’s new legislation. Campus Police Officers have received training from the university on the following topics:

  • Historical Education of Marginalized Populations
  • Implicit/Unconscious Bias
  • Title IX/Sexual Violence Awareness
  • LGBTQ Awareness
  • Mental Health Awareness
  • PSU Policy
  • Disability Awareness
  • Micro Aggression

“Work continues on recruiting and selecting qualified candidates for Campus Police Officer positions reflecting the diversity of the campus.” That was actually implemented/dated July 1, 2015, the language implying the public safety cops’ inception on PSU. So this is mostly a novice police contingent. Fast forward a mere five years: Portland State University has decided to go the way of serving and protecting students by state certified cops…ones without guns to adequately serve and protect. The way of the world now, I guess, especially for those with ears inclined to kowtow to baseless demands.

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For its remaining (revamped) purpose and mission, Portland State University police personnel will have only the less-lethal and limited protection of a Tazer. God forbid a bad dude with a gun shows up on the campus. Given many recent riotous debacles in the city of Portland, anyone will rake in the dough after betting on the fact that unsavory actors armed with firepower are pretty prevalent in Portland’s city limits (as well as just outside, with cars ready for travel to, say, a well-populated college campus).

With the publicized factor of disarmed cops responsible for PSU pedestrians and property, criminals must be salivating and chomping at the bit to wreak havoc on campus…without any tangible threat of resistance by the law.

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According to the Portland Tribune, “Portland State University will begin disarming its campus public safety officers, following community calls to do away with armed police. The move was announced Thursday morning, Aug. 13.

“PSU’s plans to revamp its campus policing as part of the university’s Reimagine Campus Safety plans. The campus currently employs six sworn and seven non-sworn officers.” Imagine that…that taking campus cops’ guns away will do the trick.

Interestingly, if the PSU campus administration had plans on neutering its police force, effectively making it impotent, why go out and hire a new police chief? Why on July 6, 2020 did they appoint/swear in Willie Halliburton, a 30-plus-year police veteran formerly serving with the Portland Police Bureau, as the new top cop of prepped-to-be disarmed campus cops?

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Well, it seems PSU police Chief Halliburton sees things differently, much like the university’s administration. Local media reported on the headscratcher move: “This is a historic event in the world of police work,” Halliburton explained via video messaging. He’s right. He continued, “I understand it’s going to have its challenges, but it’s the right thing to do for Portland State. We will still protect our campus. We will still provide police services. We will have police officers available…but they will be unarmed.”

Paring it down, it sounds as though the campus is going to continue employing/deploying certified cops, but they will be responding unarmed to (as any level of logic can confidently predict/expect) potentially armed suspects wreaking havoc on university grounds. That places not only cops in perilous life-threatening encounters but also victims/students expecting adequate (armed) public servants heeding the calls for help. Bad guys have the upper hand now.

What is the university’s workaround in such a tragic instance? They plan to call the Portland Police Bureau, since they are armed law enforcement officers equipped with firearms and similar methods to respond to volatile, hostile, armed suspects (just like campus cops used to). Since the news of PSU disarming its police force broke yesterday, we can assume the Portland Police Bureau has already had talks with PSU executives regarding how both entities will somehow work together. Kind of intrigued by the liability factor that the Portland Police command staff and Portland’s elected leaders stand to assume. It’s bound to happen: PSO “cops” encounter someone waving a firearm around at people…they somehow retreat…further exacerbating victims’ welfare and survivability…they summon fully armed Portland Police officers to deal with the threat…the bad actor rises hostilities to the level justifying police shooting/killing the armed threat…PSU administrators start pointing fingers at the city police and stand there hushed as if they are not even remotely responsible.

Or is that the scheme and basis for unarmed campus cops?

What does Portland State University’s head honcho say about all this? Via email sent to local media, “PSU President Stephen Percy said the campus no longer could ignore the calls for change.”

“‘Over the past few weeks we have listened to many voices across our campus,'” wrote Mr. Percy. “‘The calls for change that we are hearing at PSU are ringing out across our nation. We must find a new way to protect the safety of our community, one that eliminates systemic racism and promotes the dignity of all who come to our urban campus.'”

They’ll be change alright…just not the utopian concepts we humans often dream about. This boils down to a case of a law enforcement agency shooting itself in the duty boots, right after grabbing guns from its own protectors hired to safeguard thousands in an urban atmosphere at a time rife with anarchists and unrelenting mayhem.

No one in their right mind can say they are comfortable with the murder of George Floyd, but these anti-cop maneuvers do not equate whatsoever. In June 2018, PSU had a tragic incident of their own when campus police shot and killed Jason Washington during a bar fight; this is when the disarm-the-police push commenced. Both PSU officers involved in the shooting of Washington were found “justified” by a grand jury. Despite the seeming tragedy regarding Mr. Washington, taking guns away from every solitary PSU cop is counterintuitive.

Enter crime sprees…

This piece was written by Stephen Owsinski on August 14, 2020. It originally appeared in DrewBerquist.com and is used by permission.

The opinions expressed by contributors and/or content partners are their own and do not necessarily reflect the views of LifeZette.

meet the author

Stephen Owsinski is a LifeZette contributing editor. Owsinski is a retired law enforcement officer whose career included assignments in the Uniformed Patrol Division and Field Training Officer (FTO) unit. He is also a columnist for the National Police Association.

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