University of Oregon


University of Oregon

Department of Public Safety


This document provides information intended to support efforts by the University of Oregon to seek legislative action to enact statutory authority to create a University of Oregon police department.

University of Oregon

Campus Policing Statute

2011 FAQ Sheet


1.      Do other universities within Oregon or throughout the nation have their own campus police departments?

  • Yes, the use of university police departments is prevalent throughout the nation.  In fact, according to U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Statisticsover 95% of the agencies serving a campus of 20,000or more students used armed officers.  Larger public institutions similar in size to the University of Oregon (UO) are far more likely to employ sworn law enforcement personnel than smaller and/or private schools.
  • Currently, the only university police department in Oregon is located at Oregon Health and Science University (OHSU) in Portland.  OHSU’s police department is the result of Senate Bill 658 which was passed into law during the 2009 Legislative Session.
  • The Oregon University System (OUS), which includes the University of Oregon, does not currently possess statutory authority to create university police departments.  Individual universities within the system utilize a variety of different approaches in policing their campuses, and most are satisfied with their current models.  However, UO believes that maintaining its own university police agency is the best model for its campus in moving forward. 
  • In Oregon many jurisdictional authorities other than local or state government entities may create their own police agencies.  Statute (ORS 181.610 (12) (a)) currently permits, among other examples, ports, school districts, mass transit districts, county service districts and common carrier railroads to have their own law enforcement units.

2.      Why does the University of Oregon seek authority to create its own police department?

  • The University of Oregon seeks to embrace a campus law enforcement model that is culturally aligned and sensitive to the unique needs of the university community.  This connection is gained through the implementation of a community-oriented and trust-based policing model that is an indisputable derivative of the campus environment.
  • UO also seeks to ensure that law enforcement services are accountable to the campus community and its leadership. This accountability makes certain that the police agency’s mission, priorities and values are consistently aligned with the expectations of the university.  Maintaining its own campus police department re-affirms the institutions recognition of and commitment to this delicate balance.

3.      Will the UO establish an oversight committee to review the policies, practices and procedures of the university police department, and make policy recommendations where appropriate? 

  • That is one of the many issues that would be considered after a police department is authorized. Any such review mechanism would be based on national best practices and norms, and would be specifically tailored to the needs and expectations of the University of Oregon campus community. 
  • The university’s Safe Campus Advisory Group regularly convenes to review campus safety programs and strategies.  This group provides feedback and recommendations to UODPS leadership and other members of executive leadership on these topics.  The Safe Campus Advisory Group is composed of representatives from a cross-section of the campus community to include faculty, staff, students and certain constituency representatives.

4.      Will all public safety officers (PSOs) be converted into police officers?

  • The University of Oregon’s Department of Public Safety (UODPS) would implement a bifurcated model having both police and public safety officers to perform law enforcement and security functions.  Thus, some public safety officers will convert to police officers and some will remain public safety officers and perform other needed services, including emergency medical, fire and security functions.
  • Selection of university police officers will be based on state law enforcement standards as established by the Department of Public Safety Standards and Training (DPSST).  Candidates who fail to meet these standards will not be selected to become certified university police officers.

5.      What type of training would our UODPS police officers receive?

  • University police officers would receive the same training and meet the same standards as other police officers in the State of Oregon.  Officers would be required to obtain basic certification from DPSST.
  • Ongoing training would be conducted as required by DPSST to maintain certification.
  • Culturally-aligned training specific to the University of Oregon would be provided to university police officers (e.g., community-oriented policing and problem-solving, Clery Act and other campus crime reporting obligations, crisis intervention skills, emergency medical first responder training, FERPA, etc.).

6.      How many university police officers are needed for this transition?

  • Staffing levels have yet to be determined however, the intention is to provide for full-time coverage (i.e. 24 hours per day/7 days per week/365 days per year).
  • All uniformed supervisors and managers will also be certified police officers.

7.      Will UODPS police officers be armed?

  • The decision to arm campus police officers will be at the discretion of University leadership, in consultation with the State Board of Higher Education and the Chancellor.

8.      How much would this transition cost?

  • Over the past three years the university purposefully implemented a process to grow and further professionalize the Department of Public Safety. Through this deliberate approach incremental financial investments were instituted that will marginalize transition costs associated with moving from a non-sworn to a sworn law enforcement agency. UODPS is well-positioned to move towards sworn status with a minimal investment from the university.
  • As a reminder, the two primary bills in the Oregon Legislature to allow public university police departments are SB 116 and SB 405. Links to these bills are available at
    • For SB 116, the projected fiscal impact would be a net cost for the UO of $4,725 in year one and $16,209 in year two of the six-year transition to police officers. For year three, the fiscal impact of SB 116 for the UO would be a net savings of $134. Years four, five and six are also projected to have net budget savings of $15,802, $31,470, and $47,138 respectively.  Additional details relating to transitional costs can be found on the campus policing initiative page of the Department of Public Safety website.
    • For SB 405, the projected fiscal impact would be a net cost for the UO of $23,438 in year one, $43,337 in year two, $32,604 in year three, $22,546 in year four, $12,759 in year five and $3,351 in year six of the six-year transition to police officers. Additional details relating to transitional costs can be found on the campus policing initiative page of the Department of Public Safety website.

9.      Would UODPS have off-campus law enforcement authority?

  • Police officers in Oregon possess state-wide law enforcement authority.
  • University police officers would be guided by department policy and mutual-aid agreements as to their involvement in off-campus enforcement actions.
  • The University of Oregon campus is within the City of Eugene; generallyoff-campus law enforcement services would be provided by the Eugene Police Department.

10.  How would UODPS work with the Eugene Police Department?

  • UODPS department policies, Intergovernmental Agreements (IGA), Memoranda of Understanding (MOU), and Mutual Aid Agreements would be developed and adopted as needed to support a collaborative and cooperative trust-based relationship.
  • Clear expectations of each agency would be established and fostered.  Ongoing dialogue and relationship-building will be reinforced.  As an example, in 2010 the Eugene Police Department and Department of Public Safety initiated joint “listening sessions” between agency personnel of varying ranks to develop a framework for the future.

11.  Why not SB658 (the OHSU model)?

  • SB658 is not consistent with other statutes that empower police officers and designate law enforcement units in the state of Oregon.
  • SB658 does not provide for immunities and protections afforded to other law enforcement officers in the state of Oregon, law enforcement life insurance or line-of-duty death benefits.
  • SB658 requires payment of all training costs associated with DPSST basic police officer certification, unlike other police agencies throughout the state.
  • SB658 does not provide university police officers with access to PERS police and fire retirement benefits, which is a strong recruitment and retention tool.
  • SB658 does not prohibit university police officers from labor actions such as strikes; this has the potential to compromise campus safety and is not consistent with other police departments across the state.
  • SB658 does not authorize nor provide the option for university police officers to carry firearms. 
  • SB658 does not provide time for transition from a public safety department to a university police agency (a sunset clause) or allow for the creation of a bifurcated organizational structure. 

12.  Why not contract with an external law enforcement agency?

  • The university contracted with an external agency for over 40 years.  This arrangement may have worked when originally implemented, however, the changing dynamics of campus safety and the expectations of the university community dictated a reexamination of this model.  In 2009, the university charted a new course by phasing out contracted police services and expanding the role of UODPS.  
  • The contracting of police services at institutions similar in stature to the University of Oregon is not consistent with best practices across the national landscape.  Ninety-eight percent (98%) of all 4-year public universities nationwide with enrollment of 20,000 or more operate their own university police department.  Contracting for campus police services is an anomaly.
    • 32 of the 33 public universities affiliated with the prestigious Association of American Universities (AAU) maintain their own police departments.  The University of Oregon is the exception.
    • 8 of the 10 public universities affiliated with the PAC-12 maintain their own police departments.  The University of Oregon and Oregon State University are the exceptions.
  • In addition to the administrativecost savings of operating a university police department, there are considerations of accountability, compatibility, control and investment in the community.
    • Accountability: Contracted police agencies historically answer to their own governing agency, even when stipulations are written into the contract.  Any customer dissatisfaction, complaints, or liabilities are generally the responsibility of the contracting agency to resolve.  Often, these issues are not resolved to the full satisfaction of the client due, in part, to divergent organizational objectives.
    • Compatibility:  Contracted police agencies are not a product of the culture they are engaged to serve.  This creates a misalignment of expectations and values (e.g., with the Academic Plan, etc.).  The disparity is particularly heightened in a campus environment; thus the prevalence of campus police agencies across the national landscape. 
    • Control:  External police agencies are managed through their own hierarchical paramilitary structure that excludes outside control of their decision-making process.  This structure does not provide university leadership with the ability to directly manage police services on campus.
    • Investment:  Contracted police services preclude investment in the future of the university as resources are being channeled to an external agency (e.g., a rent versus own model).  Having a dedicated university police department ensures this investment is returned to the community through tailored programs and services.
  • Contracted agencies have jurisdictional obligations throughout the community they serve.  These obligations can vary by region to include the need for staffing and equipment resources.  Should a critical incident or major event occur in another region, the contracted agency may shift campus-dedicated resources without any concurrence from campus leadership. 
  • Contracted agencies generally prioritize and assign resources to address crime through a standardized approach rather than tailoring the needs specific to each location they serve.  This approach is driven by the organization’s originating charter, mandated mission and strategic values.

13.  What are other benefits of having a university police department?

  • A dedicated, culturally aligned university police department is best positioned to meet the institution’s needs through true community-based policing. 
  • Properly trained and equipped university police officers can quickly respond to emergencies due to their familiarity with campus buildings and issues. 
  • More discretion is allowed to perform enforcement activities (cite and release, lodge, warn, etc.) as officers will be encouraged to use the student conduct system.
  • The university will possess greater flexibility and have a wider range of options in developing and implementing campus safety programs.
  • A university police department strives to attract, hire and retain the most qualified employees best suited for a campus environment.
    • Research shows that campus police officers, as compared to their municipal counterparts, possess higher levels of specialized community relations skills:
      • Analysis and problem-solving (58% vs. 37%)
      • Cultural diversity (57% vs. 16%)
      • Mediation and conflict management (42% vs. 11%)
  • Unlike contracted police officers who are on rotating assignment, university employed police officers by their nature are more likely to develop meaningful long-term collaborative relationships with members of campus community.
  • In cultivating trust-based community relationships, university police departments promote a general sense of safety on campus, which aids in the recruitment and retention of faculty and students.
  • Employing a university police agency model creates a single point of contact for policing and security on campus, which reduces or eliminates inefficiencies and misunderstandings.
  • Status as a university police department places the agency in a leadership role in coordinating law enforcement resources and response to campus incidents, which include national-level and oftentimes controversial events.