CORVALLIS, Ore. -- Oregon State University will continue to have state troopers on campus through the end of the year, the university's president announced, delaying the creation of a new campus police department.
"The extension of OSP services will disappoint and concern some members of our university community," Ed Ray, the outgoing president of the university, said. But, he added, the campus cannot go without a police presence for six months.
Earlier this year, Ray announced the creation of a campus police force to begin operations on July 1. That was put on hold two weeks ago so that the campus could engage in "community dialogue" following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
"The killing of George Floyd by police elevated the requirements for Oregon State and all communities to reevaluate public safety. So we are taking a pause on how we proceed," said OSU spokesperson Steve Clark.
The university will be holding town-hall-style virtual meetings throughout July to gather community input.
Troopers on campus have been a bone of contention since the viral-video arrest of Genesis Hansen, a Black student, last October. Hansen was forcibly detained by officers after she allegedly rode her bicycle on the wrong side of the road near campus. Charges were later dismissed.
At the time, Ray called Hansen's arrest "troubling."
"The bottom line, to me, a student was riding her bicycle on the wrong side of the street, and it ends up with the student in handcuffs on the ground," Ray said.
KEZI talked to graduate student Joseph Bohlinger about the delay.
"In the wake of the incident that happened this fall there seemed to be a lot of community engagement at the student level about trying to get those changes made. So I'm skeptical about why it's taking so long," Bohlinger said.
While OSU's Department of Public Safety will need to wait until the end of the year to take charge of law enforcement, officials are beginning to describe what measures will be taken to align the police force with the university's values.
According to officials, up to 50 percent or more of the public safety force will be unarmed.
The recruiting process will include extensive background checks, including previous internal investigations or disciplinary complaints. Training will emphasize crisis intervention, deescalation and ethics. Officials also said that all officers, armed or unarmed, will wear body cameras, and all use of force incidents will be investigated extensively.
OSP has been the primary provider of law enforcement at the OSU campus since the 1980s.