Portland Democratic Rep. Diego Hernandez and the Oregon Student Association introduced a bill Thursday looking to disarm campus police at Portland State University and the University of Oregon.
The practice of having armed campus officers has drawn scrutiny from students and some faculty and staff at Oregon universities following incidents involving sworn campus officers.
Last June, Portland State University Police shot and killed Jason Washington, a 45-year-old Navy Veteran, after witnesses said he was attempting to break up a fight.
Last May, University of Oregon Campus Police drew weapons on a student they mistook for a suspect inside of the student union.
A recent independent review of campus safety at Portland State University suggested that the school continue arming its officers.
“While we have provided several alternatives to armed officers, we believe, after our extensive research and reflection, that Portland State should retain armed officers as a comportment to its Campus Public Safety Office,” the consultants said in the report published earlier this month.
Student leaders from both PSU and UO have expressed support for the bill.
“For four years PSU communities have spoken up saying they want an unarmed campus,” said Portland State University student government member Camilo Abreu Assad. “Here we have the opportunity to address the injustice of those whose lives have already been lost to police violence on campus.”
Kenny Ma, PSU’s director of media and public relations, said legislation should not play a role in university decisions such as this one.
“We have shared with [Rep. Hernandez] that we believe the campus process must proceed without a mandate from the legislature,” Ma said, “and that it’s important that the legislatively established public university boards of trustees be authorized to establish the policies they believe are best to ensure the safety of everyone on PSU’s campus – students, faculty, staff and the public.”