Portland State Disarms Police Force After Student Protests

Anti-police activists and students at Portland State University have succeeded in their attempt to force the university’s police department to disarm, with the school’s president calling the move part of its “growing commitment to anti-racism.” As the Portland Mercury reports, PSU president Stephen Percy said the university had been planning to re-evaluate the campus police department in a couple of years, but thanks to the large number of protests he realized that many students and faculty “feel the presence of weapons on campus make us less safe.”

Under the new plan, PSU’s campus safety officers will still be sworn police officers, meaning they will have the same authority of any other cop in Oregon, including arrest powers. They won’t carry guns, but they will use other “less-lethal” weapons, such as tasers. While PSU police officers will patrol the campus and respond to the majority of PSU calls, armed officers from the Portland Police Bureau (PPB) will respond to calls that involve people with weapons.

“The only time [PPB] will intercede is if there is a call that is more than we can handle being unarmed,” said Campus Public Safety Chief Willie Halliburton, adding that in his experience such calls are “rare” for PSU. Even in situations where PPB is called to campus, PSU’s force will handle all follow-up work on the cases.

Much of the controversy over the armed campus police department has centered around the death of Jason Washington, a Navy veteran and postal worker who was shot and killed by two Portland State officers as they tried to break up a bar fight near campus in 2018. Washington, who had earlier taken a friend’s gun after the friend had too much to drink, was holding the firearm when officers ordered him to drop it before firing. Late last year, Portland State agreed to a $1,000,000 settlement with Washington’s family, though students and activists have continued to protest the fact that the officers involved in the shooting were cleared of any wrongdoing by a grand jury.

Jason Washington’s death was a tragedy, but I don’t think disarming the campus police department is the right answer. Instead, it looks to me like it’s an attempt to appease the mob both on and off campus. The move to strip campus police of their firearms comes on the heels of local prosecutor Mike Schmidt’s announcement earlier this week that hundreds of protesters who’ve been arrested over the past two months will have their charges dropped, as well as the decision by the Oregon State Police to pull approximately 100 troopers from downtown Portland, where they’ve been assisting the Portland Police Bureau in riot control.

State police committed to two weeks “and that two weeks ended today,” said spokesman Capt. Timothy R. Fox.

“We’re in a county that’s not going to prosecute this criminal behavior,” Fox added.

It was a pointed reference to Tuesday’s announcement by new Multnomah County District Attorney Mike Schmidt that his office won’t pursue many of the charges against demonstrators, including disorderly conduct, interfering with a police officer and even riot in some circumstances.

The troopers will return to their regular assignments elsewhere in the Willamette Valley, along the coast, and in southern and eastern Oregon, where police staffing already is limited, Fox said.

“The Oregon State Police is continually reassessing our resources and the needs of our partner agencies and at this time we are inclined to move those resources back to counties where prosecution of criminal conduct is still a priority,” he said.

If you want to see what crime and policing would look like under a Biden/Harris administration, look no further than Portland. Police are being disarmed and defunded, even while violent crime and murders skyrocket to levels not seen in 30 years and riots are declared in the streets on a nightly basis. It’s no wonder that gun sales are also soaring across the state of Oregon, but if anti-gun Democrats like Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler, Gov. Kate Brown, Joe Biden, and Kamala Harris get their way, the disarming of the Portland State police will be just the beginning.