Oregon State Board of Higher Education gives UOPD the go-ahead to carry firearms

The Oregon State Board of Higher Education gave the University of Oregon Police Department the go-ahead to carry guns today, as confirmed by a tweet from the Oregon Student Association.

UOPD Chief Carolyn McDermed says that sworn officers will be allowed to carry firearms on campus soon.

“Are people going to see 11 officers on campus who are armed? Nope,” she said. “We don’t have that capacity.”

As of now, the only personnel on campus authorized to carry firearms in an official capacity hold the rank of sergeant or higher. UOPD spokesman Kelly McIver says those 11 officers serve in a supervisory capacity and that they only patrol when there aren’t enough public safety officers on duty. The first batch of line officers — UOPD personnel who would do regular patrols — should be trained by Oct. 1, McIver said. Protocol and directives for current officers to begin carrying is expected no earlier than June 25.

The decision came after years of appeal from the UOPD. The department had already purchased firearms in early 2012, a controversial move considering it had not yet received authorization from the board.

“The bulk of the reasoning for wanting to be armed is because it allows us to provide more services that a police department is really there to provide,” McIver told the Emerald in February. “We want the University to get more value out of having a police department, and (allow) us to be able to do more things that benefit a safe campus environment.”

For certain situations, such as traffic stops and domestic violence disputes, UOPD isn’t authorized to respond because of the possibility of violence.

“It’s a tool that police officers around the state are granted and I don’t think there should be  any reason why a police officer on campus shouldn’t have the same tools,” public safety officer Jared Davis said.

Turner Maxwell contributed to this report.

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Eder Campuzano

Eder Campuzano

Eder is the Emerald's director of audience engagement. His work has appeared in The Oregonian, The Statesman Journal and the News-Register in McMinnville. He was also a founding member of the University of Oregon's competitive Pokémon league.