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New Permanent Public Safety Chief Chosen

Kevin Williams has been named as the first permanent director of DPS in four years, according to a Daily Emerald report. Williams has been a Lane County Sheriff for the past two years, where he was responsible for introducing Tasers into the Lane County Jail. According to the Emerald story, Williams is “in favor of arming DPS officers with Tasers” and has “said he would support turning DPS into a full-blown police department.” He also “has ideas to alleviate parking pressures at the University,” and is a fan of Duck football.

Although the hiring process has been open to students, the final two choices for DPS director were both strong proponents of transitioning DPS into a full-fledged, armed police force, a position which is hardly popular among students. Naturally the “DPS serves students” rhetoric has been splashed around throughout the hiring process, but the Administration has made it clear that the DPS is headed towards police department status, and that issuing Tasers to officers is now practically an inevitability. Choosing Williams not only brings in the public face of Taser advocacy in Lane County, but compliments that with what seems to be a deep suspicion of the students he has been hired to protect. During the hiring process, Williams “said he would also like to encourage a training day on campus for area police officers, to prepare for what might occur should a riot start or a group of student protesters get out of hand.”

The choice has been made, in a “fair” and “open” process, which was only guaranteed to have a minimum of student input because it occured in the middle of summer. This allowed the Administration to push its agenda of a a tougher, armed DPS while reinforcing in their minds the perception that students are too lazy or ignorant to care.  That’s cool though, because we will just have to continue to be highly suspicious of the DPS and its  institutional drift towards ever more power and interference into the lives of students. So with that, allow me to extend a hearty welcome to Mr. Williams. You have your agenda, we have ours… as long as you are willing to talk to us (unlike the late, lamented, lamentable Mr Driscoll) we’ll all manage to get along somehow. At least until the first on-campus Tasing.

  1. Niedermeyer says:

    I may have got to the bottom of this one, Tim. It seems that DPS employees are too busy posting to student media blogs to actually do their jobs. Check out the ODE story comment section, and you’ll see what I’m talking about. You may notice that all of the DPS insider comments are posted from UO computers between midnight and 5 a.m too. Good thing those DPS guys are so convincing, because I might be tempted to believe that they spend whole shifts at a time getting paid to post their crappy self justifications on student blogs. Except that they are such a dedicated team of professionals…

  2. Timothy says:

    I wonder how Scalia’s “New Professionalism” will apply to DPS. My guess would be “not at all.” Look, DPS are glorified mall cops, do you want mall security chasing students around campus to “protect them” from “underage drinking” or whatever? They can’t even do a reasonably good job at keeping bikes from getting stolen, I don’t think giving them high voltage toys will do anything other than make them bigger incompetent dicks. And we all know that it doesn’t matter how big your dick is if it just hangs there, flaccid, looking pathetic.

  3. niedermeyer says:

    I’m fine with the fact that these developments don’t bother everybody. I guess I just don’t live with enough fear to see how making DPS a permanent police force and arming them with Tasers is worth it. To answer your question, I was referring to the eventual Tasing of a student whether the Tasing officer thought the student was committing a crime at the time or not. It’s not a scenario I see as likely to occur regularly, but then again I don’t see the UO campus as being under siege by violent criminals from whom our brave boys in blue need electrified protection. As you say, they barely use their pepper spray or batons (that we hear about), so why the need to ramp up their arsenal?

    It is entirely in vogue for politics on all sides of the spectrum to be motivated by perceived “lack of safety,” both from the identity warriors of the left, and the police-state right. In this case, I simply don’t see the impetus for the considerable expense and opportunity for (marginally) less-than-lethal mistakes or abuses. Your only reassurance to anyone worried about Taser proliferation, Chris, is that “guidelines will be strictly enforced,” which is a roundabout way of saying that it’s easier to ask for forgiveness than permission.

  4. Chris says:

    Just wondering out loud here, but when you mention the on campus tasing, are you referring to any person that has committed a crime on campus and is attempting to assault someone in order to get away, or just a student that happens to get tased for no reason? The only reason I ask is this is that DPS Officers carry batons and pepper spray every day, yet there is hardly any mention of Officers spraying or beating students or even the bad guy that comes onto campus for no reason. If you know of occasions where this has happened, I would like to know. The other thing is that IF DPS Officers get Tasers, the policies and guidelines would be strictly enforced. As added protection, all Tasers used by Police or other agencies have video cameras in them that record everything that happens, so that it can be reviewed after to determine if the tasing was necessary or excessive force. I believe that Williams will be able and more than willing to meet with student and faculty groups to help evryone understand what he is doing and why.

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