Two months into his new position at the University of Oregon Police Department, Chief Matthew Carmichael said moving to Eugene was the right move.
“We just do things different here … I was in Albertsons the other day, and we have Duck Tracks ice cream here, man,” Carmichael said. “I texted all of my friends — I was so excited.”
Moving from his chief position at UC Davis, Carmichael has a reputation for creating an engaging connection between the police department and the community. It’s on his resume, in conversations to his sworn officers and to UO students at the first Student Advisory Council meeting on Oct. 13.
“Some people said I came to UO to retire; I’m not retiring,” Carmichael told eleven students and staff at the meeting. “I’m here for the same reasons you all are.”
Carmichael said his first mission is to get to know the campus and the people in the community. He said he has met with almost every department on campus and was impressed with the resources for students. He wants UOPD to be one of them.
“Let’s be honest, we serve faculty and staff and visitors too, but at the end of the day, [UOPD] is here to serve students,” Carmichael said. “We are here tonight so I can hear your concerns, your feedback, so let’s hear them.”
The meeting is set to be monthly. UOPD uses the time to listen to students’ concerns and gather feedback on its performance on campus. Pizza and drinks are provided. The ten students at the meeting brought up several existing issues on campus, including bike theft and campus safety.
A student questioned the chief about UOPD’s communication system. He asked if there was any other effective methods to warn students of potential danger around campus. The conversation provoked ideas across the room — at some point, the chief and students came to an agreement that a self-defense training section and a guide of how to use pepper spray was needed and beneficial to many students.
One student asked Carmichael’s input on the bike cages on campus. She said although security bike cages are available throughout campus, she barely sees any students use them. She also brought up incidents where people would steal individual bike parts.
“Who is buying the bike parts?” the student said. “I just don’t understand.”
Carmichael said the department is tackling the issue head on. Besides project 529, which allows cyclists to register their bike in an online system, UOPD is proactively partnering with other departments on campus. Carmichael, along with UOPD Security Manager James Stegall, said the force is willing to work with students to improve the bike theft epidemic on campus.
The chief has also hired two student assistants to help him revamp the UOPD website and communicate better with students.
“We are going to be doers,” Carmichael said. “I am so excited for the future here at UO.”