Crime

DPS seeking more responsibility for citations



The Department of Public Safety and the Eugene Police Department are seeking an amendment to increase the types of citations in municipal court that can be given by University DPS officers for certain misdemeanor offenses that occur on campus.

The proposal amends the Eugene city code that has been in existence since 2003, which allows DPS to issue citations for offenses such as minor in possession, use or possession of less than 1 ounce of marijuana and urinating in public, among others. It seeks to expand DPS officers’ authority by adding trespassing, theft, open container and misrepresentation of age by a minor to the list of allowed citations.

The proposal was presented to the Eugene City Council on Monday, Oct. 19, where Chief of Police Pete Kerns, Department of Public Safety Director Doug Tripp, University Dean of Students Paul Shang and ASUO and student representative Emma Kallaway all testified, speaking in favor of the proposed change.

“I thought it was really a very good set of recommendations and I feel that it definitely speaks to the concerns that students have about safety on campus and wanting to feel that there’s going to be a more efficient and effective delivery of safety-related services,”
Shang said.

With the current system, DPS officers can detain individuals for the citations they are unauthorized to give and call an EPD officer to the scene to issue the citation.

According to a letter sent by Vice President of Finance and Administration Frances Dyke to Mayor Kitty Piercy, in many situations DPS officers have completed the citation forms and are only waiting for an EPD officer to review and sign the citation. Under this proposal Eugene police officers would not have to attend court hearings as well.

“The collaboration taking place between Eugene Police Department and Department of Public Safety will benefit all of us who work and live on campus and study here on campus,” Shang said. “I’m pleased to be a part of it and will continue to express my strong support for this, as should all students.”

The driving force for both Eugene Police Department and the Department of Public safety
is resources.

“It will reduce the Eugene Police Department’s call loads, reduce the amount of time Department of Public Safety waits for assistance. It essentially expedites the process,” said Patrol Captain for the EPD Rich Stronach, who was also in attendance at the City Council meeting.

ASUO President Emma Kallaway’s main concern was that of safety.

“This is taking up to 90 minutes of DPS officers’ time that is keeping them from doing rounds and keeping them from doing crime prevention for students, which is what we have the Department of Public Safety on campus for,” she said. “So the height of distraction and waste of time the department of public safety is having is causing other spaces on campus not to be monitored in the best possible way.”

She added that is part of her campaign promise to increase safety on campus.

“When it comes to safety, the ASUO is going to be focused on this all year and continue to have a constructively critical relationship with DPS as well as always putting the safety of students as number one,” she said. “It’s something we were elected to do and it’s something we’re not going to let up on.”

Kallaway meets with the Department of Public Safety on a monthly basis to increase
communication.

Kallaway also stressed the importance of trespassing, which is the most common citation issued by EPD officers on University property with already 34 violations reported this year.
Also as a representative of the student body, Kallaway said she had concerns about open container citations, which she would prefer to see DPS officers issue, because those receiving the citations are “most likely students.” She said DPS officers are more likely to use a more forgiving set of rules.

“The Department of Public Safety always has more authority to work within the conduct code as opposed to jumping straight to a citation, whereas the Eugene City Police Department doesn’t have that ability,” she said.

Kallaway said that City Council’s decision will be made by Dec. 1.

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