PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Portland State University officials are not planning to disarm the campus police force, despite urging from students.
After a board of trustees meeting Thursday, acting university President Stephen Percy announced a new “holistic” plan for campus safety following an internal review of campus security.
Officials said there will be more oversight and training for officers on campus. The plan also includes strengthening the security of campus buildings with electronic access pads and hiring 4 additional unarmed campus safety officers to bring the total number to 10. PSU will retain its 10 armed police officers.
Officers have been carrying guns on campus since 2015.
“To have the full array of services you might need to provide a full and strong campus public safety requires a lot of different resources and assets and one of those is the capacity and expertise of sworn officers,” Percy said.
Shortly after the announcement, PSU students announced they would organize a boycott of the school and urge other potential students not to attend PSU.
Students have been pushing for officers to be disarmed for 5 years now — those calls only got louder after campus police officers shot and killed Jason Washington last year.
Washington’s family was present at the board meeting when the new plan was announced. Washington’s wife spoke at the meeting about the suffering she has experienced since losing her husband.
“These students told you years ago this would happen and no one has listened and you continue not to listen,” said Michelle Washington. “I pray to God no one has to go through what we have gone through.”
Percy acknowledged the opposition to the plan, saying the new plan is the result of “review and deep reflection” after Washington’s death.
“I want to acknowledge these strongly-held feelings and to tell you that I respect them and I respect all of you who have shared them with us,” Percy said. “Fundamentally, the benefits of safety and security must be made available to all members of the campus community.”
The PSU student union said they’ll make an “important announcement” if campus police are not disarmed and added that they won’t back down on the issue.