Campus safety officers at Portland State University will be disarmed beginning November 1, 2020, as part of a larger effort to “eliminate systemic racism.”
Officer.com reports that the decision to disarm campus officers came as Portland approaches “80 days of continuous protests against police violence and systemic racism.” And a number of PSU students reportedly “lobbied” to have campus officers disarmed.
As a result, PSU president Stephen Percy made clear that the officers will no longer carry guns.
Percy said, “The calls for change that we are hearing at PSU are ringing out across our nation. We must find a new way to protect the safety of our community, one that eliminates systemic racism and promotes the dignity of all who come to our urban campus.”
PSU’s campus safety chief Willie Halliburton concurred with Percy, saying that he hopes the decision to disarm “will bring healing to this campus.”
Halliburton described disarming officers as “an historic event in the world of police work,” and said he anticipates that “it is going to have its challenges.”
He said his officers will carry only “non-lethal tasers” and that Portland Police Bureau will rush to campus if an armed response to an unforeseen event is needed.
KGW reports that the decision to disarm “reverses an October 2019 decision to keep armed officers on campus.”
The calls to disarm officers came after 45-year-old Jason Washington was shot and killed on campus in 2018. According to KGW, Washington had a concealed carry permit but allegedly dropped his gun while trying to break up an on-campus fight. When officers saw him reach down to pick up the gun they shot him, fatally wounding him.
A Multnomah County grand jury found the officers justified in their use of force, noting their actions were in defense of self and others. But the PSU Student Union allegedly claimed Washington died as a result of racial profiling.
PSU released a statement describing the decision to disarm officers as “an important first step of a new process to Reimagine Campus Safety.”
AWR Hawkins is an award-winning Second Amendment columnist for Breitbart News and the writer/curator of Down Range with AWR Hawkins, a weekly newsletter focused on all things Second Amendment, also for Breitbart News. He is the political analyst for Armed American Radio. Follow him on Twitter: @AWRHawkins. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can sign up to get Down Range at breitbart.com/downrange.