Six years might seem like a long time, but for the Department of Public Safety, it is exactly what they need to create an ideal police force. Between training, proposals for equipment and building relationships with other agencies, DPS has a lot on its plate right now.

“There’s a lot of things that have to be set in motion to move forward,” said Carolyn McDermed, assistant chief and senior associate director.@@ “Right now, we’re in that process.”

Last year, DPS got University presidential approval to go before the Oregon State Board of Higher Education and by October were authorized to become an official police force.

Just last Sunday, the first two officers were sent to 16-week stint at police academy training. Other DPS officers are determining what track of training they themselves should be going through.

Meanwhile, a complaint resolution work group and policing implementation team — both of which were created before the Board’s decision last October — will be working for the rest of this year to build community connections and help determine what is wanted from the new campus police force.

“We are engaging with our campus community on issues of policing priorities,” McDermed said. “Officer equipment — typically firearms and what kinds of services people want on this campus.”

Throughout the entire first year of these plans, they will be working on creating professional training standards and policies for the new force. Coming in the next few months will be more detailed descriptions of the police officer job, administrative positions and planning for space as well as vehicle and equipment needs.

A few weeks ago, guns were also brought to the DPS East Station and held there temporarily while training with them occurs off campus.

“We want to make sure we develop it the best we can and have it structured it the way we’d like it,” McDermed said. “It’s important that we take a thoughtful look at how we roll it out and not try to exceed what we’re capable of doing.”

While the first year of the transition lists a number of plans specifically, the second and third year of the transition are both still fairly general.

“(The plan) is more detailed for this year,” University spokesperson Julie Brown said.@@ “There’s still a lot of unknowns down the line.”

“Initially, (students) are not going to see anything different,” McDermed said. “We will be providing the same services we are now, while it’ll be a development that no one will see while people are gone at training.”

DPS hopes to start hiring the first new officers by June. Throughout the next two fiscal years, it plans to continue sending new and veteran officers through the academy as well as continue discussions to form agreements with other law enforcement agencies.

Right now, the next step will be University presidential approval of the complaint-resolution process — the process that any complaints or problems with DPS officers will go through.

“That’s a process that is going on right now,” Brown said. “That will likely be completed this spring.”

Although the plan is vague, McDermed is content with it because it means they have more space to mold the force to be exactly what the community wants.

“There’s a focus on different parts of it and how it’ll all come together,” she said. “As time goes one, we’ll start taking on more responsibilities that police officers have based on dialogues that we’ve been having.”@@This whole story just seems really [email protected]@