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Senate 2/13 [UOPD Firearms Forum]

We had technical difficulties. Sorry, no live blog. Police Chief Carolyn McDermed, Captain Pete Deshpande and UOPD Communications Director Kelly McIver were present.

Alright, so McIver gave us the rundown on why guns will make better Police Officers.

Senator Hedlund was the first and only person on the speakers list. He wondered what the UOPD reps thought about putting the decision to arm up for student-wide vote.

McIver argued that would be divisive. Senator Ben Bowman agreed.

Also, if we did that, warned McIver, then UOPD would just go above us and get approval from the State Board of Higher Education.

I, Nick Ekblad, raised my hand and attempted to voice my concerns in a way that the Senate, UOPD officials and the audience could understand. I really hate speaking in front of large groups and am poor at it, so it turned into a bit of a ramble but I was basically saying that officers want guns to protect themselves. Ergo, everyone should be able to conceal a handgun for personal protection. I then tried to explain that 25 cops with guns are not going to help the problems that UO has. I told them we need more police on bicycles and more night patrols.

Captain Pete Deshpande then clarified that 90% [up 2% from Monday's forum] of the people they encounter are people non-affiliated with the UO.

Senator Mabuya then spoke. She said she was against the arming before, now she is a proponent. Mabuya cited the graphic pictures shown to her by Lane County District Attorney Alex Gardner as one of the reasons for her change in opinion. Additionally she understands that an officer’s firearm “doesn’t protect the officer from the student but protects us students from unknown dangers”.

Senator Lamar Wise wished to know more about the criteria for UOPD referring students to the office of Student Conduct.

Chief McDermed said, “Our officers have that discretion.”

Wise: “If i have a problem with an officer, what do i do?

Captain Pete: “We have a very robust  internal affairs system.”

Wise: “How many officers are going to be armed?”

Chief McDermed: “25 armed Police Officers and 10 Public Safety officers.”

My two cents, real quick: Seriously, campus crimes could be cut in half (I’m pulling that fraction out of my ass)– or at least be caught in the act– if we had a Public Safety night patrol. Nightly violence is the real issue. How do you cure that? More staff. Not guns.

Wise: “Why is it such a big ratio? I mean I’d be willing to meet halfway, maybe.”

Thank you!

“We have 21 shifts per week to fill,” Chief McDermed explained. Then, nodding to me, she said, “We are understaffed, as was mentioned.”

Wise noted that he ran on a platform that disagreed with the changing of DPS to a Police Department and said, in relation to the high ratio of armed police versus safety officers, “I just don’t see that as necessary.”

Lamar and Chief McDermed agreed to have coffee during one of the more intimate info sessions

Another senator, whose face I couldn’t see, asked if referring students to the office of Student Conduct was a “either-or type thing” (read: For the same crime/incident, is both municipal punishment and referral to Student Conduct possible?).

Chief McDermed said that they understand the hectic schedule that students have and try not to put students in a double-jeopardy type of situation. However, she explained, some incidents, such as assault, are likely to be involved in both currents.

Wise talks price. UOPD reps explain that guns have already been bought because Police need same training across the state. They also described the amount that the Police Department costs the school as one drop in the bucket.

Senate thanks UOPD for coming. Applause.

End UOPD Firearms Forum (read: Senate continued with the rest of its agenda, but I didn’t stay).