We’ve been getting a lot of media requests to address the latest PR stunt by Portland State University in announcing for the THIRD time that they are going to have unarmed patrols by some near future date (Fall, Winter, and now September 1st). The media has made this into headlines that PSU will fully disarm by September 1st (see KGW, OPB, Oregonian, Willamette Week). This is false.
To be clear:
- PSU WILL NOT BE FULLY UNARMED. President Percy and Chief Halliburton are only referring to a small number of patrol officers who will PATROL without arms.
- CPSO WILL STILL BE FULLY ARMED. CPSO will continue to have access to their full arsenal of weapons.
Finally, we would like to encourage the media to dig deeper into this issue and ask President Percy and Chief Halliburton 1) why the University Public Safety Oversight Committee (UPSOC) committee members have signed non-disclosure agreements [who are these NDAs with PSU, PPB], 2) who actually has the authority to disarm CPSO, 3) what are the financial implications of continued arming of CPSO [how much money has PSU spent on defending the arming of CPSO through outside consultants, committees, legal settlements, etc]; and 4) when will they honor their commitment to the Washington family in establishing a scholarship and art installment in memory of Jason Washington?
This open letter from Dylan Rodríguez, Professor, Department of Media and Cultural Studies, UC Riverside in response to the an invitation join the UC-Riverside Chancellor’s Campus Safety Workgroup has invaluable information for us as we look towards the fall and the recommendations from the RCSC. Specifically, be wary of calls for partnerships with CPSO.
While the UCR Task Force Report acknowledges that “systemic racism exists in U.S. society and in policing, and must be eliminated wherever possible,” its nine recommendations fail to challenge the fundamental centrality of police power to the university’s infrastructure and everyday operations. At first glance, the Task Force appears to advocate a modest downscaling of the UCRPD’s campus presence. Upon further analysis, however, its proposals cultivate an expansion of police power through the deputization of campus staff and administrators to act as civilian surrogates of the police department. Perhaps most revealingly, campus employees in specific units (including Student Affairs, Human Resources, and the Title IX office) are expected “to pair and cross-train [with] public safety personnel [e.g. UCRPD officers].” The Report does not bother to elaborate on the substance of such “pairing and cross-training” other than to indicate that select staff and administrators will be expected to build collegial relationships with the UCRPD that, by extension, further legitimize and extend the reach of campus police power by institutionalizing what amounts to a civilian/employee shadow police force.
Sharing with permission.
Alliance High School at Meek students made this film after returning to school in the fall of 2018. Over the summer, one of our teachers, Andre Washington, suffered a tragedy when his brother, Jason, was shot and killed by Portland State University Police. The film documents Mr. Washington’s perspective of the incident, including a Disarm PSU demonstration he attended as that school was also coming back into session for the fall.
PSU has not fulfilled its commitments to the Washington family to create a memorial scholarship and art installation.
All performance. No action.
Speaking of racial justice, let’s look at PSU’s campus public safety officers. The administration promised in August that CPSO would disarm in the fall of 2020, after years of activism by students and after Jason Washington was shot and killed by campus police in 2018. PSU said CPSO would have all firearm-free patrols “before or during the month of October,” as part of a plan to “dismantle systemic racism.”
In November 2020, the university announced campus police will not disarm until the “end of the academic year,” citing “delays in negotiating a new operating agreement with the Portland Police Bureau and rewriting 500 pages in policies and procedures.” If PSU were truly acting in good faith to disarm campus police, why would they not be up-front about these challenges in August instead of setting a deadline they knew they couldn’t meet? And if they didn’t know what the challenges were, why wouldn’t they find out before announcing a date for disarmament?