Portland State University will be unable to meet its fall goal of transitioning to unarmed sworn officers on campus due to the retirements of two officers and the resignation of a third. Staff turnover, coupled with delays in drafting policies to govern the new approach, held up the process, according to Willie Halliburton, Campus Public Safety Chief. In a letter to students and staff this week, University president Stephen Percy detailed the delay.
Originally, PSU had announced in August that the University would switch to unarmed police officers this fall, but university officials are reluctant to set a new deadline to the evolving situation, however Haliburton (pictured above) has pledged to keep the campus updated on its progress. The campus security office needs to have eight sworn officers working before it can make the transition to allow unarmed officers to respond to calls in pairs, he said.
Meanwhile, the university is working to update hundreds of policies and procedures related to the campus police officers. Those policy changes will be submitted for approval to a University Public Safety Oversight Committee, made up of faculty, staff and students, according to Percy.
“Additionally, the change in policy increases our reliance on partnerships with the City of Portland and the Portland Police Bureau. We are working diligently with these organizations to reach agreements that provide the support necessary to keep our campus safe," Percy wrote in his letter.
Students at Portland State have previously lobbied to get guns removed from campus security and Percy noted that the University remains committed to this goal. It was one of the issues that caused students and supporters to shut down a governing board meeting at the school in 2016.