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Chief McDermed Contradicted by Community Icon Officer Randy Ellis

The arming of UOPD is problematic in a number of ways. As the Register Guard points out, the East 13th Avenue police substation of EPD is in danger of losing funding– something the businesses and residents of the area don’t want.

Wait, area businesses and residents are in favor of EPD’s presence on East 13th Avenue? Not necessarily. What they favor is the man behind the badge, officer Randy Ellis.

As the RG reports, EPD’s only remaining substation is run by Ellis. The experienced officer has been patrolling the area between Kincaid and High for about 20 years. Back in the early 1990s, 13th Avenue was a drug-addled, trick-turning, vagrant-fest. Ellis turned that all around with his intimate foot patrol.

Ellis, quoted by the RG:

“As far as I’m concerned, technology is overrated,” Ellis said. “I don’t like it. You don’t talk to people.”

This bears a striking contrast to the perspective of Interim Police Chief McDermed when asked about patrol time spent walking/biking versus driving: “Our cars are our offices.”

Continued quote of RG article:

So the uniformed officer commenced walking East 13th Avenue between High and Kincaid streets — and he got to know all the merchants, the drug dealers and the vagrant alcoholics there.

The arming of UOPD is shaping up to be an open-and-shut case. Many are in support of the idea, others are citing a “Why not?” mentality, while a handful of concerned citizens have been voicing their concerns. Are these guns really going to make our campus safer? More secure? Or just really hard to exceed speed limits? Where exactly do we want to spend our resources, our money?

UOPD Captain Pete Deshpande said it himself: “We are your police department.”

Perhaps they need to be taught how to effectively use their resources if they expect to get anymore. Did Randy Ellis clean up the streets by cruising around in a pimped out SUV?

UOPD now wants to arm themselves and their reasoning is contradictory. They want to maintain a safe campus, but want arms to conduct off-campus investigations, transport suspects and make traffic stops. Are those things not auxiliary to our general safety concerns? They say it will make the campus safer, but then say that violent crime is not prevalent (in response to a suggestion of exploring more effective ways to maintain safety).

I want to make clear that I am in favor of UOPD officers protecting themselves, whether off or on duty (I just like to play devil’s advocate)(By the way, this sucks). However, for all intents and purposes, a handgun is for personal defense.** It is obvious that campus safety is not and will not be corollary to the arming of our police, or the amount of gadgets they have stuffed in their mobile “offices”. Officer Ellis can surely attest to this.

So what’s on the table here? How much money spent on fuel could be reallocated to campus service and safety?

**Edit: While I understand that the firearm is a) a deterrent and b) usually the last resort dangling from an officer’s utility belt, I maintain that by allowing UOPD firearms will simply result in a redundancy in enforcement, taking resources paid for by students off campus.

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