This video is from the body-worn camera of a University of Oregon police officer, from May 12, 2018, involving officers pursuing a burglary suspect, and contact with a UO student.
This video is provided to the public by UOPD, following an internal investigation that determined there was no violation of law or policy. The video has been requested under the Oregon Public Records Law, and although there is an exemption to the release of this type of record, the department believes this particular situation to be of heightened public interest to the UO community. The video also does not relate to a pending criminal investigation, does not disclose sensitive law enforcement techniques or confidential sources, and its disclosure would not amount to an invasion of privacy.
The student depicted in the video has provided his consent for the video to be posted publicly with his features blurred.
Background and Follow-Up
The officer was clearing the EMU (student union building) of occupants before searching the area with a police search dog (K-9) from the assisting Eugene Police Department. Police were looking for a burglary suspect that ran from UOPD officers when they tried to detain him. At that time officers believed that the suspect might have fled into the building as they found an open door where they last saw the suspect. Officers knew at that time that entrance was normally kept secured. Because of the size of the EMU and the fact that there were few people inside the building, officers decided for occupant safety to remove them prior to the K-9 search. This included any KWVA radio staff in their secured area.
At the time of first contact, the KWVA radio student staff member was never a suspect nor confused with a suspect while inside the EMU, and the officer eventually told the man he was not in trouble and the officer apologized for his demeanor when first contacting the man.
After a formal investigation was completed, UOPD Chief Matt Carmichael met with the student radio station employee shown in the video, and watched the video with him. Chief Carmichael apologized for the following things that should have been handled differently that night:
- That the student was made to feel unsafe when the department's goal is the opposite
- For not communicating with him effectively
- For not understanding the needs of the radio station
- For not walking him out of the EMU to avoid confusion with the assisting police team outside
- For not providing clear direction on how he could get back into his radio post
- For the officer or a supervisor not following up with him at the conclusion of the search
While the officer's actions were within the law and department policy, the department is using this as an opportunity to remind officers that despite stressful situations such as suspect pursuit that they should practice engagement that reassures and protects the members of our community that they serve. The department has also arranged a training with KWVA to ensure that officers understand and can facilitate the broadcasting law requirements under which radio station staff operate.
The University of Oregon Police Department is the sworn police agency for the University of Oregon in Eugene. It provides law enforcement and security response, planning, and support to the UO, its students, employees and visitors.
UOPD police officers have the same certification, training, authority, and tools as any sworn law enforcement in the state, with the authority to enforce all laws anywhere within state boundaries. UOPD Officers carry side arms, Tasers, pepper spray, batons, and body cameras.