On June 11, 2021 the President of Portland State University (PSU), Stephen Percy, announced that the campus was moving to completely disarm any campus police for the fall term.
He gave an estimated date, September 1, to have the goal completed by. “New policies to reflect the change to unarmed patrol have been created, reviewed by the University Public Safety Oversight Committee and are now in place. I appreciate the leadership of Chief Halliburton and members of the CPSO team for their commitment to innovation in campus safety,” Percy wrote in a statement on the PSU website.
This brings to fruition the goal of a student lead group on campus called Disarm PSU, who have been pressuring PSU to remove guns from their campus for years. Their cause only intensified in 2018 after a campus shooting outside of a sports bar. As Jason Washington was leaning down to pick up a handgun that had become un-holstered while breaking up a fight, PSU campus police shot him nine times, taking his life.
No officers were incited in the incident, and the family settled for a settlement of one million dollars to prevent a lawsuit. This only created tension on campus, with Disarm PSU pushing harder for some progress to be made.
In 2019 an attempt was made by Disarm PSU to bring a compromise to campus- 10 armed officers and 10 student security ambassadors to help increase the amount of unarmed campus security. However, this attempt did not go through, nor did any other attempt presented by Disarm PSU.
On June 14, a Disarm PSU spokesperson made a statement of uncertainty in regards to the new disarming plan. “This is the third time President Percy and Chief Halliburton have announced that they will not have armed patrols,” the spokesperson said, “but we have not seen any of these announcements turn into action.” This statement is backed by reports that in October of 2020 the university made the same claim: campus security would carry “less than lethal weapons” such as tasers, but no firearms.
This never came to fruition however, which leaves many people wondering if the current policies will ever see the light of day. At the end of the day, the end goal is to provide a safer feeling campus for the students of PSU: A goal hopefully attainable by September 1.