INDUSTRY FOCUS

Defund Police, I Don’t Think So

An interesting article from Portland OR, or more specifically Portland State University made headlines last week. Why is this so important? On June 29, 2018, a PSU police officer shot and killed Jason Washington trying to break up a fight close to campus. This following 80 days of nightly protests following the death of George Floyd.

Two years later, university officials announced it would disarm the campus police department and patrol the campus boundaries unarmed. University President Stephen Percy said at that time would be the first step in a broader policy to re-imagine safety at the state-funded university in the heart of the city.

“Over the past few weeks, we have listened to many voices across our campus,” Percy wrote in an email to campus announcing the change. “The calls for change that we are hearing at PSU are ringing out across our nation. We must find a new way to protect the safety of our community, one that eliminates systemic racism and promotes the dignity of all who come to our urban campus.”

Fast forward. April 11, 2023.

Portland State University has rearmed its campus police force.

For all the reasons safety and security did not seem important then, those reasons are important now.

Campus officials and the PSU Police Department are seeing an increasing number of weapons on and near campus. The Portland Police Bureau has not been helping that much either.

Situations change, and so they have at PSU. The environment around campus is different and not in a safe way, Perry wrote. Officers are encountering an increased number of weapons on or near campus. Demands from local law enforcement cannot be met because the city seems to be in upheaval. To protect the campus, university police will now be armed while conducting patrols.

Campus officials have chosen wisely by arming the nine swarm officers who patrol the campus confines. The pursuit of aiding people with mental health and behavioral health crises without law enforcement is a leap forward. If everyone is more diligent in keeping the peace, each person will enjoy the university experience a little more.

This article originally appeared in the May / June 2023 issue of Security Today.

About the Author

Ralph C. Jensen is the Publisher of Security Today magazine.

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