UO Department of Public safety becomes UO Police Department

EUGENE, Ore. -- (Oct. 1, 2012) -- The University of Oregon Department of Public Safety is changing its name.

Effective immediately, the campus safety and law enforcement agency will go by "University of Oregon Police Department," or "UOPD."

The name change is another small step in the transition to a fully sworn, full-service police agency. The department has 11 sworn, commissioned police officers serving campus, and is close to beginning the hiring process for more police officers.

"Our department is coordinating more than ever with other law enforcement agencies, and using 'police department' just makes things clearer for everyone," Interim Chief Carolyn McDermed said.

The department has been in transition since January 2012, after the Oregon Legislature empowered the university to create a campus police department. The full transition is expected to take as long as six years.

Two UO sergeants already have completed the state's basic police academy, and are gradually completing required field training. Four lieutenants who had recently been law officers at other agencies, as well as Interim Chief Carolyn McDermed, passed a certification test to renew their police credentials. A new police captain (Pete Deshpande, from the Eugene Police Department) has been hired, and three other officers have been sworn and commissioned and are in various stages of certification with the state.

The services the department provides to campus will be much as they have been recently, with non-police Public Safety Officers (a special class of state-recognized law enforcement officers) doing most of the campus patrols and incident response, and staff such as a crime analyst, detective, police planner, dispatchers and records officers frequently collaborating with Eugene Police on investigations and crime prevention.

There is no change to the equipment that UOPD officers carry on duty. Officers carry batons, pepper spray and restraints, but do not carry firearms. Eugene Police must still be called to campus for all operations that require arming, such as certain arrests, confronting armed suspects, and all prisoner transport.

Firearms are standard equipment for police officers across the U.S., and in Oregon. Many police functions are too dangerous to carry out without officers being armed. All other Pac-12 universities have armed police officers on campus full-time, including Oregon State University (which has Oregon State Police officers rather than its own police department). Oregon is also the only member of the 61-school Association of American Universities (AAU) without an armed campus police department.

After the Oregon Legislature approved the creation of campus police (ORS 352.383), the State Board of Higher Education and UO leadership agreed that officers would not be armed until there had been a broad campus discussion of the issue. That discussion will take place during the 2012-13 academic year, primarily during winter term, with many opportunities for public conversation, education and feedback. University leadership will decide in the spring of 2013 whether to make a recommendation on arming.

For more information on UOPD, go to police.uoregon.edu.

About the University of Oregon

The University of Oregon is among the 108 institutions chosen from 4,633 U.S. universities for top-tier designation of "Very High Research Activity" in the 2010 Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education. The UO also is one of two Pacific Northwest members of the Association of American Universities.

MEDIA CONTACT: Kelly McIver, communications director, UO Police Department, 541-346-8335, kmciver@uoregon.edu

Note: The University of Oregon is equipped with an on-campus television studio with satellite uplink capacity, and a radio studio with an ISDN phone line for broadcast-quality radio interviews.