President

Office of the President

An update about the Campus Public Safety Office

10/27/20

Dear Campus Community,

In August, we announced that our Campus Public Safety Police Officers will move to unarmed patrols, and Chief Willie Halliburton began the process of implementing the necessary policies and practices. It is an important new approach to policing and represents a commitment by CPSO to align our public safety practices with our institutional ethos and to help the PSU community heal. 

We set an aggressive implementation timeline with the hope of completing the work this fall. While we are making steady progress, we are not on track to achieve our goal as soon as we’d hoped. 

We remain committed to unarmed patrols.  

To hear more about Chief Halliburton’s personal commitment, please watch this video. Additionally, in this email you will find a comprehensive progress report and a description of how we are implementing a number of measures designed to ensure transparency in the process.

Building a new kind of police office 

We are developing a team of sworn officers deeply invested in a new approach to public safety. To ensure the safety of unarmed officers, we decided that it is necessary to have a minimum of at least two officers on duty during every shift. This is the plan we have been working to implement. However, setting our efforts back, three sworn officers recently resigned or announced their intentions to retire. We thank them for their service and wish them well. Full implementation of unarmed campus patrols requires sufficient staffing of CPSO to ensure we are able to meet the minimum two officers per shift standard.

PSU is fortunate to have one of the state’s most diverse and well-trained teams of sworn and non-sworn officers. We will continue to recruit new officers who, like those who are continuing with CPSO, are committed to moving forward with this bold new style of policing. CPSO also continues to employ many non-sworn public safety officers and student safety ambassadors.

Reviewing policies and procedures 

We are unaware of any other police agency in the nation that has shifted from armed to unarmed patrols by sworn officers. Agencies across the country are contacting us wanting to know how we are going about creating this new reality. The shift requires updating hundreds of policies and procedures related to CPSO. The work is currently undergoing internal and external legal review. When the review is completed, the updated policies will be submitted to the University Public Safety Oversight Committee for approval. 

Additionally, the change in policy increases our reliance on partnerships with the City of Portland and the Portland Police Bureau. We are working diligently with these organizations to reach agreements that provide the support necessary to keep our campus safe. 

Moving forward with transparency

We understand that this issue is of significant interest to our campus community. We commit to the following actions to keep the community informed:

  • Campuswide progress reports
  • Online updates regarding the hiring progress of the PSU Campus Public Safety Office 

November CPSO Town Hall

We are organizing a November town hall meeting to better answer specific questions about this complex shift in how we approach policing on our campus as well as any questions or concerns about public safety on our campus. 

We reiterate the steadfast commitment by CPSO to implement these changes as soon as safely possible. Your patience and support are greatly appreciated as we continue this important work. 

Sincerely, 

Stephen Percy 
PSU President 

Willie Halliburton 
Chief of Police / Director of Public Safety

Welcome to our 75th anniversary of teaching, learning, service and discovery!

Student wearing mask

 

September 28, 2020

Dear Campus Community,

Welcome to the 2020-2021 academic year, the year we celebrate Portland State’s 75th anniversary! Portland State is rising to the challenge of COVID-19 by developing new ways to learn, live and connect — on and off-campus. To protect your health and well-being this fall, nearly all our classes will be remote, but our campus will be open — with new safety measures — to provide student support.

The video at the top of this email is full of useful information about what to expect during fall term 2020 at PSU. To learn more about our plans, visit our A New Way Forward web page.

In gratitude
Employees and students: I cannot thank you enough for the hard work, adaptability, patience and compassion you have shown over the past six months. You created remote learning from scratch this spring, and over the summer, PSU faculty trained with our Office of Academic Innovation to refine their remote teaching practices and help students thrive in a virtual environment. Faculty and staff found ways to give students personal attention and support, even it could not be in person, and created a sense of community in a virtual environment. Students can access one-on-one online support with virtual tutoring, academic coaching, writing help, and advising. Staff members have also taken a number of steps to make campus spaces safer and to support students’ physical and mental health. Thank you for all of your efforts.

Responding to the wildfire crisis
As this term unfolds, we are experiencing a new, unexpected challenge, and our hearts go out to those across the state whose homes and communities have been damaged by the wildfires. Many at PSU — students, staff, and faculty — have had their lives touched by this disaster, whether they are fleeing homes that lay directly in the path of the flames, battling the blazes, or providing relief and support for evacuees.  

In recognition of the circumstances of the wildfire and the continuing challenges posed by the pandemic, PSU is extending for all students the deadline to drop classes with a 100 percent refund. The new deadline will be Sunday, Oct. 11. You can review all important deadlines on the academic calendar. 

Frequent communication
We are stepping up our efforts to stay in communication with our community in the virtual environment, and last week, we put together a virtual Town Hall to answer faculty and staff questions about fall term. If you were unable to attend the Town Hall, I invite you to watch a recording of it here, where we will also be posting answers to questions that we were unable to get to the day of the event. 

Advancing racial equity at PSU
Many of you will soon have a chance to meet Ame Lambert, our new vice president of Global Diversity & Inclusion. Dr. Lambert will be leading our university’s extensive effort to confront and root out racism in all its forms on this campus. This effort is at the top of my agenda. I consider it a moral imperative. And I also see it as work that goes hand in hand with our Students First initiatives. As one of our first steps, we are convening an Equity Summit on Oct. 30, and I encourage faculty, staff and students to register. Look for a formal invitation later this week. We are excited to spend the day visioning and planning for our racially just and equitable future. 

Reimagining Campus Public Safety
In August, Chief Willie Halliburton and the members of our Campus Public Safety Office made the decision to patrol campus without carrying firearms. They will continue to be sworn officers, with investigative and arrest capabilities. We are grateful for the groundbreaking commitment from our campus public safety partners, as it allows us to look beyond the question of guns and to reimagine how best to address the complete continuum of safety on our campus. We also wish to recognize and appreciate these members of our campus family for their dedicated service and commitment to the well-being of PSU.

Also in August, we created the Reimagine Campus Safety Committee. The committee’s work is guided by our commitment to providing a campus environment that is free of racism, celebrates the diversity of our community, and honors our dedication to human dignity. The committee is already meeting to assess how to keep our campus safe without relying on officers carrying firearms. The committee is also looking for innovative solutions to an array of safety and security needs, including providing basic security and assisting those who are in crisis. An invitation to self-nominate to participate in the committee’s work will be sent in the coming weeks.

A Year to Celebrate 
PSU has been resilient since our very beginning 75 years ago as an institution that was established to serve GIs returning from World War II. We were resilient in surviving and thriving in the aftermath of a flood that destroyed our first campus. And, we have been nothing if not resilient over the last six months in our continued response to the COVID-19 pandemic and through our efforts to forge a pathway to eliminate racism and advance social justice on our campus. We are in the beginning stages of planning many 75th-anniversary celebrations. Please look for more information about this soon. 

I wish you all a safe, healthy, productive year. Thank you for being a part of PSU!

Sincerely,
Stephen Percy
President

To help provide up-to-date information about PSU’s COVID-19 response and fall term, please join President Percy and members of university leadership, faculty, and staff as they address your questions. This town hall has been recorded for later viewing.

President Percy Welcomes you to PSU