The University of Oregon Police Department officers will soon have access to semi-automatic “patrol rifles” with high-capacity magazines. Officers will also be using Tasers that, when used, will activate body cams, according to an announcement Wednesday in a UO senate meeting. The department will also get a bomb-sniffing dog.
The new program is intended to be used for critical and active threats on campus and provide increased accuracy and distance, according to UOPD.
UOPD Chief Matthew Carmichael said the rifles will be kept in locked gun safes in patrol cars. The rifles will also have ammo that can penetrate body armor.
“It’s imperative that we move forward with the patrol rifle program,” said Carmichael. “I’m responsible for the safety of this entire community.”
The UOPD will train officers to use the rifles with the current state requirements. Officers will be trained for accuracy, decision making and how to handle escalation and de-escalation of force.
A semi-automatic rifle fires a single shot for each trigger pull and automatically reloads after every shot.
Thanks to a $49,000 grant, the UOPD will now be able to purchase body cameras for all officers that can be activated manually as well as whenever an officer activates a Taser. Each officer will be assigned a specific body camera to ensure the recorded information is connected to the correct officer. Previously officer had worn body cameras but they used multiple different models all in trial periods.
The new Tasers will also be yellow so that they are not confused with firearms. Additionally, these will give officers a non-lethal option when choosing to use force and have a range of 25 feet.
“No one will use Tasers without the proper training and certification,” said Carmichael.
The police will also get a bomb-sniffing dog and hire a handler for the dog. The selection of these dogs will be made with involvement from University Athletics. The dogs are intended to improve campus safety, protect campus facilities and will not be “bite dogs.”
Correction: A former version of this article stated that officers will carry rifles. The rifles will be locked in patrol cars and used for specific incidents.