“Free pizza!” University of Oregon Police Department Chief Matthew Carmichael announced. “You don’t even have to talk to me. You can just take the pizza and leave.” Inside the EMU’s Lease Crutcher Lewis Room, the UOPD held its monthly Pizza with the Chief last Monday.
Carmichael stood at the end of a long table, adorned with black table cloths and pizza. With Thanksgiving break days away, much of the conversation revolved around students’ travel plans. Some people trickled through the conference room doors, leaving with pizza, while others stayed to speak with Carmichael about the UOPD and his three years as the university’s police chief.
Thirty-three years ago, Carmichael began his law enforcement career in Pinole, California, before transitioning to UC Davis in 2002. He graduated from lieutenant to chief in 2011. In 2016, Carmichael made the move to the University of Oregon. “I’ve been working longer than you’ve been on planet Earth!” he joked with a visitor.
When Carmichael first became UO chief of police, he said to Around the O that “the university has a great opportunity to become the national leader in campus safety and policing, and it’s an honor for me to participate in that effort.” Three years later, the police chief gave an update on UOPD’s national leadership: “Not yet,” he said, “but we’re working on it.”
UOPD, in partnership with the California Victim Compensation Board, hosted October’s Leave No Victim Behind Conference in Las Vegas. The conference communicated mass violence response best practices, and promoted “unique partnerships between law enforcement and victim services to assist victims of violence,” according to its October release. For Carmichael, the intention was simple: “to best serve the needs of victims.” He said he held UOPD’s involvement in the conference as a symbol of their growing leadership in training and preparedness.
Carmichael acknowledged that UOPD is “still struggling with building trust” with the community. Future outreach programs include the opening of the 13th Avenue UOPD patrol office as a community substation, with expansion projects designed to help promote student engagement. The conference room can serve as a meeting place, said Carmichael. “The renovation will include, among other things, artwork, bean bag chairs, a television and a video game system,” the Emerald reported in November 2018.
The chief characterized The UOPD Policy Advisory Workgroup as a push towards transparency and the inclusion of diverse voices within policy. The group is designed to “provide informed recommendations on police policies and practices,” while working to meet the needs of the campus, and the community, according to UOPD documents.
One-year positions are held by an undergraduate student, a graduate student, a UO faculty member and a member of the Eugene community, as well as permanent positions by a UO labor relations representative and a member of the Service Employees International Union. The board provides feedback on policies, giving Carmichael “the community perspective” on police conduct.
“Dude, that’s awesome,” Carmichael said, at the thought of the community input through the UOPD Police Advisory Workgroup.
It was Yosh Akhouri’s first day working with UOPD, running the prize wheel adjacent to the pizza table. He was a student hire, and his table stood as an example of student recruitment for the campus police — adjacent to the wheel, next to trinkets and a bowl of candy, was a stack of interest cards that students could fill out to learn more about working alongside UOPD.
Carmichael said that at every Pizza with the Chief, students get hired. When it came to UO students working for the police, the chief said, “You can’t get more transparent than that.”