10/3/2012: I can think of many ways the $1 million or so cost of the conversion to sworn (and apparently soon to armed) police could have been better spent. But apparently our administrators cannot. This letter to Pres Gottfredson is posted with permission of the sender:
Dear President Gottfredson
I want to register my concern for what I consider a dangerous transition to an armed police force.
I am in matters of public safety conservative and believe that officers do need to be properly quipped to deal with a dangerous world, but I have never bought the argument that a university police force needs to be armed. Indeed, it is most effective when it can act as an intermediary between the university and the community. That advantage, and it is one that serves the interests of both the university and the the community, would be seriously compromised or lost if the UO officers start to carry weapons.
I have had regular appointments at many universities in the US and in Germany, and most function quite well by cultivating a good relationship with the local police force, but they do not try to duplicate efforts.
I do realize that many higher administrators must be telling you otherwise, but if you listen to the faculty you will quickly come to see that there are many among the faculty who have very significant reservations about the course and costs of this transformation.
Indeed it is very hard for me to see any advantage that an armed 'police' force would bring. Moreover, I [and I believe others] see many disadvantages and costs that will accrue from such a decision.
J Nicols: Professor Emeritus of History and of ClassicsOne particularly good anonymous comment:
I do not think that the discussion should be about sworn police officers vs. public safety officers. UO had for years sworn police officers on campus and there is still a college station for the Eugene Police Department on 13th Steet. UO just did not extend the contract with EPD a couple of years ago and now the administration pretends that there is no way back. (I am pretty sure UO can sell the new SUVs to our old police friend who sold us the used Ford police troopers a while ago.)
The question is whether UO should have this "in-house" with full responsibilities, oversight, and risks or contract with well-experienced law enforcement entities providing sworn officers on campus. OSU does not have a sworn university police department. But their Public Safety department has a contract with Oregon State troopers for these extra services on campus. OSU has no intention to change it. Why does UO? Is UO so much more in danger? Comparing UO to other PAC12 schools with University Police such as UW, UCLA or Berkeley is just silly.
Frances Dyke told UO and Salem that in-house security could do the job for less money (but not substantially less). I think we can at least question this given the tremendous investments in cars/trucks, new and additional leadership, new "street credible" uniforms, training, guns, etc. — and UOPS’ proposal for a bomb sniffing puppy. I am pretty sure campus' security could even increase with a UO SWAT unit but such a unit has a substantial price. (I hope that this does not add something to their shopping list.)
Whenever I saw one of the new SUVs or the 4x4 I wanted to take my key and scratch “I could have been a dissertation fellowship” into the paint. (Something I would never do to any other car!) These expenditures are just a pure provocation for anybody who cares about affordable education, support for faculty, (graduate) students and staff, and academic infrastructure. It appears as nothing else than pure rent seeking by UOPS.
I would appreciate if there would be an update about the "cost savings" that were promised (if Frances Dyke “lied” she should apologize in public to UO and Salem) and if there were any other motives — covering up weed smoking athletes/students in the university neighborhood, subsidizing the athletics department by providing in-house security at sports events instead of costly EPD/county officers, increasing some egos of the leadership, or improving the relationship with EPD because of "rowdy" undergrads in the university neighborhood by covering the area. All these motives might be taste but at least there would be a rationale for the nonsense and money burning. It may make the provocation a bit more bearable.
Otherwise the UO admin should just stop the nonsense and gain some credibility – providing resources for UO’s mission.