It's time to Reimagine Campus Safety

August 13, 2020

Dear Campus Community:

The question of how best to keep Portland State University safe has challenged us for years. The continuing tragedies across our country demonstrate the disproportionate impacts and unacceptable loss of life that policing has on Black people and people of color. 

Over the past few weeks, we have listened to many voices across our campus. The calls for change that we are hearing at PSU are ringing out across our nation. We must find a new way to protect the safety of our community, one that works to dismantle systemic racism and promotes the dignity of all who come to our urban campus. 

Today we are making two important announcements in our effort to realize these critical goals.

CPSO to patrol without firearms

Chief Willie Halliburton and the members of our Campus Public Safety Office are making 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.

President, Board to create Reimagine Campus Safety Committee

As we continue to mourn the death of Jason Washington and accept the charge to work actively and intentionally to dismantle systemic racism, we announce the creation of the Reimagine Campus Safety Committee. The committee’s work will be 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 will assess how to keep our campus safe without relying on officers carrying firearms. The committee also will be asked to provide innovative solutions to an array of safety and security needs, including providing basic security and assisting those who are in crisis.

Committee to make recommendations this fall

Between now and the end of the fall term, we are asking the committee to take advantage of the intellect and ingenuity of our campus and community to develop actionable measures that align our commitment to equity and humanity with our approach to campus safety. Recognizing the urgency of this work, the university will provide the necessary resources to support the efforts of the committee. 

The steering team leading this work will include:

  • Dean Jose Coll, School of Social Work
  • Ed Washington, Director of Community Outreach and Engagement, Global Diversity & Inclusion
  • Vicki Reitenauer, Faculty, Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies, and incoming Faculty Senate Presiding Officer-Elect 
  • Motutama Sipelii, President, Associated Students of Portland State University

Working with campus leadership, governance groups, and others, the steering team will select committee members that reflect the racial, ethnic, gender and ideological diversity of our institution.

Our community’s safety has always been a shared responsibility, and we continue to have great confidence in the students, faculty and staff of PSU. Together, we can imagine a system of safety that relies on new ideas and different personnel and embraces our values. As we move forward, you can follow our progress, share your views, and find ways to participate on the new Reimagine Campus Safety webpage.

Chief Halliburton explains more about why our campus public safety officers will be patrolling without firearms in the following video.



Stephen Percy

Portland State University 

Greg Hinckley
Chair, PSU Board of Trustees