PSU Students Protest Giving Guns to Campus Police
Monday, November 24, 2014
A number of Portland State students are planning to march Nov. 24 from the south park blocks to the University Place Hotel in hopes PSU’s board will vote no on a proposal that would arm is campus public safety officers (CPSO).
The board is considering arming its police officers because the university may be vulnerable to an open shooter scenario, according to 2013 report from a security task force.
“Campus Public Safety has no capacity to respond to and disrupt an active shooter and must rely on the response of the Portland Police Bureau,” the task force report stated.
However, some students argued that a response from the Portland Police Bureau wouldn’t take long, considering the urban location of Portland State.
“I don’t think that anyone can question that we do have some safety issues on campus,” student activist Leona Kindermann said, “but I think police would exacerbate the issue and kind of hurt the community.”
Some student leaders expressed concerns that an armed campus police force may cause tensions with students of color. In the past, some students have accused public safety officers of racial profiling. Other students said public safety officers need to become more involved in the campus community.
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“We don’t even really know our CPSO officers, we don’t know where their headquarters are — we don’t know anything. The most I see of them is when they drive around the park blocks,” Kindermann said. “I think it’s problematic (to arm) a bunch of people I don’t know or don’t really have a connection with.”
Under the proposal being considered by the board of trustees, the school’s public safety officers would be trained by the Portland Police Bureau.
”The ultimate goal is to get them to vote ‘no,’ because we don’t think this proposal accurately reflects anything that will make our campus safer,” Kindermann said. “It’s not an us-versus-them thing at all. We really want to work with everyone.”
Student Stephanie Haughton, another activist leading the protest, said members of the campaign, “would like safe alternatives to be explored and experimented with before resorting to increasing police presence and the presence of firearms on campus.”
Student-protesters are planning to gather at the campus’ park blocks at 2 p.m. before marching to the University Place Hotel at 310 SW Lincoln Street, Haughton said.
The Portland State University Board of Trustees may decide whether to move forward with a proposal at its Dec. 11 meeting.
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