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Portland State University rearms campus police officers

The school’s president cited rising dangers, weapon sightings and a lack of support from Portland police around campus as reasons for the reversal


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By Austin De Dios

PORTLAND, Ore. — Portland State University has rearmed their campus safety officers with guns, according to an email sent from the school’s President Stephen Percy on Tuesday.

This change comes three years after Portland State announced that their security officers would no longer routinely carry guns on patrol, following protests from students, the killing of Navy veteran Jason Washington by campus officers in 2018 and social unrest in 2020. The change went into effect in fall 2021.

In his email Tuesday, Percy cited rising dangers, weapon sightings and a lack of support from Portland police around campus as the reasons for the reversal, which took place Feb. 14 without a public announcement then.

Under previous guidance from 2020, PSU officers were instructed not to carry a firearm, except with individual permission under specific circumstances. Now whether an officer carries a gun is left to their discretion, according to spokesperson Christina Williams.

Percy, who will retire this year, said the university recognized that students are often uncomfortable with having armed police officers on campus, but said the change was necessary. A spokesperson for PSU also said officers can choose not to carry a weapon if they believe doing so would escalate a situation.

“While this may seem like a step backward in our ongoing efforts to achieve lasting change, it does not alter our commitment to actively pursue a campus safety system that prizes de-escalation, respects the dignity of our diverse campus community, and finds a path to return to regular unarmed patrols on campus,” Percy said in a statement.

Nine armed officers will be patrolling the campus.

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